Restaurant chain puts Wi-Fi on the menu

Fajitas now come with a side of Wi-Fi at Ontario’s Lone Star Cafes.

Ottawa-based Lone Star Texas Grill and Big Daddy’s Crab Shack & Oyster Bar restaurant chain has partnered with another Ottawa venture, BOLDstreet Wireless Internet, to provide wireless networking to patrons in 10 Ontario restaurants.

BOLDstreet installed basic architecture in each restaurant — a radio transceiver that broadcasts the restaurant’s pre-existing internet connection to wireless-enabled computing devices via 802.11b (WiFi) technology. BOLDstreet charged the chain a set-up fee of $349 per location, connecting their wireless transceivers to, in most cases, DSL or cable modem connections already in place.

BOLDstreet president Tom Camps sees the addition of wireless networking to the restaurants as a natural extension of hospitality.

“”It makes the environment a little more business friendly, when they’re trying to invite people to come and have business meetings or do any sort of work while they’re sitting down,”” says Camp. “”A Wi-Fi hotspot is going to move very quickly from being a destination to being a must-have. It’s just part of what you’re going to have to offer if you want business people to come in and have a coffee and lunch.””

Lone Star director of marketing Kathryn Leroux says the decision to add Wi-Fi hotspots to her restaurants was based on competitive advantage.

“”I think that anytime we have an opportunity to create a point of difference between ourselves and our competitors, we’re looking for that kind of opportunity and this one was made very easy for us.””

Leroux says the inclusion of Wi-Fi among the offerings at Lone Star and Big Daddy’s has made a difference for the chain’s management as well as the clientele. Rather than having to go a regional office, the company can stay connected from any restaurant location.

“”From a personal business perspective, it’s wonderful. I had a conversation last night with our director of operations, and we exchanged business documents while he was in one of our restaurants in another city,”” said Leroux.

BOLDstreet launched their service with a multi-week free trial, but will be instituting a pricing structure this month. Wireless laptop or PDA users will be able to pay for connection to BOLDstreet’s networking at any of the company’s hotspots.

Already prevalent in the U.S., wireless hotspots in Canada are a more recent technology.

“”Canada is typically a late adopter of technologies like this. But we adopt it more deeply than our (American) brothers and sisters,”” says Camps. “” So that’s why we believe this is a perfect country to be doing this business in.””

BOLDstreet hopes to expand its services to more Lone Star and Big Daddy’s restaurants in the coming months, as well as to other hospitality ve

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