Founded in 1975, Thrive Restaurant Group is one of Applebee’s largest franchisees in the U.S. The restaurant group operates 81 restaurants across 10 states. Thrive has always been focused on delivering superior customer experiences and making a difference to the growing communities they serve. The company found itself struggling with common challenges that many geographically distributed businesses face, including managing multiple network, voice and security providers, outdated CCTV hardware, and limited IT staff.

When it came to vendors, Thrive simply had too many. Troubleshooting technical issues was challenging as it was difficult to pin accountability on a specific vendor. In addition, tracking invoices, service credits and administering multiple vendors was an inefficient, and time consuming exercise every month.

In addition, the restaurant group had outdated legacy hardware and changing regulations, which posed a challenge for a 45-year-old company like Thrive. Unreliable CCTV equipment left the restaurants vulnerable to security risks. Constantly evolving PCI-compliance rules meant the company had to devote hours of his limited bandwidth to keeping up with the latest changes and updates so Thrive could avoid major penalties and security threats.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a significant disruption to Thrive’s business. Restaurant staff found it challenging to handle a sudden spike in call volumes as they had to work with a legacy phone system that was not scalable. In addition, the flexibility of offering curb-side pickup and take-out services was impossible to manage as there was no 4G wireless coverage outside the restaurant premises. Thrive realized that it was time to migrate to a secure, scalable network and communications backbone that would unclog the productivity bottlenecks and give the flexibility the restaurant chain needed to cater to changing customer needs.

Thrive turned to Interface to leverage Fortinet secure edge devices, cloud communications and business security services. Interface implemented a secure SD-WAN architecture with network upgrades to guarantee seamless connectivity between Thrive’s locations. 4G/LTE wireless capability, delivered an improved restaurant and guest experience and the LTE failover automatically provides security in the event of a primary network connection failure. With PCI-compliant managed network services from Interface, Brian Houchin, Director of IT for Thrive Restaurant Group never has to worry about compliance issues.

Thrive also implemented a unified communications as service (UCaaS) with cloud-based VoIP and auto-attendant features for 34 of the company's locations, helping drive increased call volume routing to their dedicated order center.

“We wanted to streamline the increased call volume into our individual restaurants,” Houchin says. “We previously had days where we missed out on business because all our phone lines were busy. The UCaaS service from Interface allows us to properly route and handle additional orders, dramatically improving our customer experience while increasing revenue.”

Interface also upgraded Thrive’s legacy CCTV infrastructure with a secure and uniform video surveillance platform with easy remote viewing from any location and simplified access management to boost restaurant security.