stunews-2

Locals provide cool insurance for Laguna restaurants

When Laguna Beach resident George Saidah wanted to monitor his boat at the marina in Dana Point when he left it for a month or so, he looked for a reliable and inexpensive way to do so.

“There was nothing, no product on the market”, recalled George. “So I designed and built it myself.”

After two years of development and refinement, George’s desire to monitor his craft’s electrical, water and fluid systems morphed into a commercial monitoring system for restaurants, grocery stores and other users of freezers and refrigerators.

His new company, Restaurant Automations, integrates small sensors with powerful wi-fi monitors that connect to the Amazon Cloud.  The concept is to make the system very affordable for local restaurants both large and small.

System phones home

If a cooler warms quickly, or the temperature rises above an owner-selected limit, the system will send an email or text to the customer’s smartphone. A sensor calling a phone via the cloud is an example of “the Internet of things”, one of the most talked about trends in technology.

Marketing VP Elliot Quint checks his wine cellar while walking along Thalia St beach. “I know my wine is fine just with a glance at my iPhone. A month ago I installed the temperature monitor, downloaded the app and signed in. Now I can see the current temperature and a historical graph of the temperatures on my phone,” Quint says.

George in front of fridge

George Saidah

The introductory price per sensor is $100 plus an annual fee of $24.  Installation is easy and can be done by the customer, by his usual refrigeration repair company, or locally by George and Elliot.

In Dec 2015, the first system was installed at Brussels Bistro. Shortly after installation, a refrigerator broke in the middle of the night. A text alerted owner Thomas Crijn. He was then able to arrange to have it fixed early that morning. Had he waited until kitchen staff arrived to open in the early afternoon, the cost of spoilage would have been much more than the cost of monitoring.  “(The system) helped me save time and money,” Crijn says.

At Chantilly Ice Cream on Forest Avenue, owner Robert Sarhad no longer worries about his walk-in freezer breaking down in the middle of the night, or about employees leaving it open as they had in the past. Now he receives a text alert as the freezer warms and he can have it fixed, or have the door closed.

Local favorite Café Zoolu had been an early customer as was Moulin Bistro in Newport.  Says owner Laurent Vrignaud, ”Loved it at my first location…(I’m) adding it now to my new second location” in Laguna Beach.  Eva’s Caribbean in South Laguna is one of the most recent users.

As for monitoring boats, George has not forgotten his roots. With systems in place on several area boats that belong to friends, he plans to launch a new company, Boat Automations, in the future. For more information, visit www.restaurantautomations.com