Allows us to reach a balance of tech supporting the experience

Have you been to Altrincham Market or Mackie Mayor and ordered your food with an app

Well you are among millions of Britons who are now feeling safer because of app technology, designed by App4.

The tech company came to the rescue of businesses that were looking for innovative ways to help their customers out of lockdown.

These included Nick Johnson, the owner of Altrincham Market, who was previously a self-confessed technology sceptic.

Nick had an app created in order to make ordering and paying for food at his venues quicker, easier, and with as little social contact as possible. He wanted an app that would put his customers’ minds at ease and would make Covid-19 provisions a lot smoother.

Nick said that his bespoke app called ‘Alt. Eats’, designed by App4, has been a key factor in the Altrincham Market’s bounce back since re-opening.

He said it is also being used at his other venues, Mackie Mayor and Macclesfield’s Picturedrome. He is optimistic that their levels of trade will follow suit and pick up similarly to Altrincham Market.

Nick said: “Pre-lockdown we were feeding 30,000 people a week. We are a busy operation, employing 300 people.

“Our three locations are people-driven social experiences around food and drink, so our decision was how do we resurrect ourselves using technology – without diminishing the social aspect of what it is to come to one of our venues.

“The app has got us to the closest point where it can happen without undue interference in the interaction of family, friends and food.

“People can create an account and order and pay for food at the table. We have introduced a takeaway service so we actually have some additional dimensions.

“I had been very reluctant to embrace technology in respect of our business to the extent our strapline had been ‘not available online’ as a deliberate riposte to the interference of technology in our everyday experience.

“However, having worked with App4 and now operating an app across each of our reopened venues, we have found it allows us to reach a balance of tech supporting the experience rather than tech interfering with it.

‘It gives some people a sense of safety and security. They can order and pay at their table without the need to move around. But this has not interfered too much with the atmosphere which has always been critical to our collective success.”

Many bars and restaurants have integrated apps into the new running of their business, but not all of them have considered how user-friendly they are. App4 created an app that was simple to use and took customers from the menu, to the kitchen, to the table and then to the bill.

Nick added: “‘It does not inhibit too many people. Actually, there are very many octogenarians who are showing they are adept with technology. They realise they are the most vulnerable to Coronavirus and can most benefit from the app which will help keep them remote in a social setting.”

“At Altrincham Market, our business is at pre-Covid levels. Mackie Mayor is at 60 per cent but that has been hit badly by the fact that people not yet at work in Manchester city centre and there is no tourism in the city. Macclesfield Picturedrome is only one-week into re-opening and the signs are very good there.

“I don’t see the app disappearing. We are wholly relying on it to produce income at the moment and I now accept that this is very much part of the way forward.

“In the future, there will still be the excitement of a crowded bar for some but others will use the app to order food and drink.

Ian Chambers, managing director of App4, added: “We are delighted that our Alt Eats app has been such a success.

“It allows customers to choose from a hugely varied menu of food and outlets and their meals can be delivered to numbered tables in sectioned areas.”

App4 provides bespoke app solutions across the food and drink industry. The company has seen high-profile success for pub and takeaway chains and has created a number of apps tailored to the needs of their different clients.

Ian said: “We are busy helping companies who have been desperate to trade for months and we are taking on staff so we can handle more inquiries and orders.

“It is excellent to see our clients’ business coming back so quickly through the use of technology which they wouldn’t have otherwise considered.