Lunch Garden connects new location to central server with WatchGuard
The AfricaMuseum recently opened a coffee corner of the Bistro Garden brand, which is part of the Lunch Garden restaurant chain. Alongside a few Bistro Garden locations, this chain also operates around 75 Lunch Garden restaurants and 15 roadside restaurants throughout Belgium. All locations are connected to the chain's central servers via a wide area network, which are located at the head office near Brussels.
The coffee corner at the AfricaMuseum presented a challenge for Michaël Verleysen, ICT Coordinator at Lunch Garden. "There were no options for us to pull cables," he says. "We therefore required a wireless solution to securely connect the coffee corner to our central IT. This connection had to run via the museum's public Wi-Fi infrastructure.”
Security was an important focal point. "A coffee corner does not necessarily involve large amounts of data, but it does involve confidential data that must arrive safely," comments Verleysen. "You're dealing with checkout data and PIN payments. These are by definition sensitive data that shouldn’t fall into the wrong hands."
Another hard demand from Verleysen was that the solution had to be user-friendly and stable. "We don't have any technicians around who can support employees. So everything just has to work," he says. "If cash registers have to be closed due to a malfunction, that's a double loss for us. Customers have already scooped up the food and they aren’t going to wait for the network failure to be resolved. Then you've lost both the food and the customer."
Moreover, Verleysen is solely responsible for the entire Lunch Garden IT infrastructure. "So I need good support from the supplier, as my options are limited."
The choice fell on a WatchGuard firewall and access point. The firewall creates a secure connection with the servers at the head office via the museum’s public Wi-Fi. The access point provides a secure wireless network for the coffee corner’s equipment. Verleysen was already sure about the supplier. "We have been working with WatchGuard for ten years and with very good experiences," he points out. "If there are any problems, they are always quickly solved."
This support reinforces Verleysen's confidence in the solutions. "I can always call supplier Netcure. They help me right away. They have direct access to the firewalls and solve everything remotely. If it's less urgent, I'll send a support ticket. It'll then be fixed within two hours.
With the Firebox T35-W and AP325 with Secure Wi-Fi from WatchGuard, the new coffee corner was connected to the head office within two weeks. "We did run into an unexpected challenge during implementation," says Verleysen. "The cash register and payment terminal send, yet also receive, data from the servers. Take, for instance, product prices. This data, however, did not arrive."
It turned out that this problem was not caused by WatchGuard. "We used the same IP addresses as the museum's IT environment. There was no insight into this. Netcure discovered this on time and fixed the problem, so the coffee corner has been running smoothly from day one. The deadline was before the Easter holidays, and we made it."
"Thanks to our ample years of collaboration with WatchGuard, we also know what’s possible with WatchGuard's solutions," says Netcure’s Managing Director Erik Bosmans. "That knowledge has contributed to the success of this project. Within the non-traditional setting of a museum, we were still able to create a beautiful solution for Bistro Garden that is reliable, affordable, and user friendly".
The T35-W and AP325 also resulted in some unexpected positive surprises. "I didn't know, for example, that you can set up a VPN connection at the push of a button," comments Verleysen. "That's very useful, for instance, when you have a booth at a trade fair. Before, we had to choose not to connect these temporary stalls and keep track of all transactions on the spot. This is now no longer necessary."
The AfricaMuseum will certainly not be the last location where Lunch Garden will roll out a solution like this. "Other locations will certainly follow in the future. Think of museums, but also hospitals," concludes Verleysen.