“Modern restaurants have such a big tech stack. Internet, POS, credit card processing, online ordering, reporting software, phones, and music. Can you imagine today if you were to lose something like online ordering, how that would impact your business?” Kevin Smith, IT Director, Willie’s Grill and Icehouse
Willie’s Grill and Icehouse is an 18-location restaurant concept that’s been serving classic and innovative scratch made recipes across Texas for almost three decades. As technology took on a more prominent role in the restaurant’s operations, Willie’s quickly identified how important security is for ensuring their operations remain up and running at all times, with customer data and business data deserving thorough protection.
Throughout the 2010s, Willie’s had a managed firewall in place through a third party vendor, but the support situation wasn’t as quick or helpful as it needed to be. Whenever issues were escalated, it would take longer and longer to resolve downtimes and other issues, leading to hours of waiting while registers remained down and credit cards couldn’t be processed.
Willie’s reached out to their back-office software provider, Decision Logic, to see if they had any solutions that would simplify the support experience, provide visibility into the tech stack, and set them up for long-term security. They were introduced to Logic Shield and have been a customer ever since.
In this case study, discover how Logic Shield has given the Willie’s IT team unprecedented real-time visibility into digital infrastructure, streamlined PCI compliance, set-up, and device management, and created a level of proactive service that keeps threats at bay.
SECURITY MEETS TRANSPARENCY
I log into Logic Shield almost every day, and there are so many different alerts you can set up to track what you need.
- KEVIN SMITH, IT DIRECTOR
One big problem that used to hold back IT Director Kevin Smith was not having the ability to see what was happening throughout the restaurant chain at any given time. The previous provider kept this information siloed away from Willie’s, so gaining visibility often required a lot of manual configuration or, worse, waiting on support to relay details to them.
That changed with Logic Shield. Now, thanks to a single pane of glass application that provides full visibility into all locations, networks, and systems, Kevin and his team can monitor network traffic and spot unusual activity at once.
“I log into Logic Shield almost every day, and there are so many different alerts you can set up to track what you need,” said Kevin. “You can monitor all your computers. I can monitor Windows updates, device updates, and antivirus. I can see if the hard drives are getting filled up and need to be expanded or cleaned up. It allows me to be proactive.”
“I have full transparency into my network, which I didn't have with the other provider,” said Kevin. “I have login access to the firewall, I can see what my network’s doing at any time, I can see if it's up on the main internet, I can see if it's on the back-up. I get alerts when it switches over, which is a huge improvement. Because if you're on your cellular backup, it could end up potentially costing you quite a bit of money at the end of the month, so I want to know when that’s going on so I can fix it quickly.”
“This visibility inside the network has made troubleshooting issues take minutes instead of hours.”
THE MERAKI DIFFERENCE
I’m back up and running in minutes versus hours.
- KEVIN SMITH, IT DIRECTOR
As a certified Cisco Meraki PCI compliance partner, Logic Shield constantly remains up to date with the latest advancements in data protection. We partner with Cisco Meraki because we believe their firewalls, threat monitoring, and encryption are second to none.
The benefits of Cisco Meraki extend to our customers, something that’s been felt deeply by Willie’s Icehouse.
“One of the things I really like about the Meraki platform is it's all cloud-based,” said Kevin. “So you can access it from any anywhere, and it’s secure thanks to two factor authentication. I love that about it. I can also take administrative control of a device remotely if necessary. I mean, if you have to be in the store to do something, that’s pretty much a legacy device now.”
The combination of Logic Shield and Cisco Meraki have proved indispensable for getting new stores and devices up and running as Willie’s has expanded its footprint across Texas.
“With the previous provider, they would ship out a device, and then I'd have to physically go to the store, plug it in, and do some configuration on my side to allow the provider access into it to get everything set up. With Logic Shield and Cisco Meraki, all the configuration is done ahead of time. You plug it in, then it kind of calls home and configures itself. A general manager can go through the steps and I don’t have to physically travel to that store. It’s so, so much simpler than what I had to deal with before.”
“And devices do go down from time to time, that happens. But in our industry, everything happens at such a fast pace that your system has to get back up and working very quickly. If that happens now, I can quickly change the MAC address or plug in another device in place of that one. It will quickly plug in, ‘talk’ to the cloud to get all the configuration settings, and I’m back up and running in minutes versus hours.”
I don’t actually submit very many tickets because things have been working very well, but they always respond back immediately when I do
- KEVIN SMITH, IT DIRECTOR
Because speed and ease of use were important factors in choosing a cybersecurity solution, Kevin and the entire Willie’s team wanted to ensure not just that their providers were security experts, but that they’d be readily available at all times.
Logic Shield hit that mark in a way that would have seemed virtually impossible in their previous configuration. Jim Barber, Logic Shield’s founder, is passionate about brand security, and he’s instilled that passion into everyone at Decision Logic and Logic Shield.
Kevin has found that, when he picks up the phone to talk through an issue, he gets service immediately. Sometimes, it’s Jim himself calling Kevin to talk through something!
“Jim is just so dedicated to what he does,” said Kevin. “Genuinely, every time you talk to him, what comes across is how passionate he is about security and wanting to take care of his customers.”
“The help desk with Logic Shield is awesome. The team responds very quickly with any issues I have. I don’t actually submit very many tickets because things have been working very well, but they always respond back immediately when I do.”
“There was a breach with some remote software a few months ago, someone accessing a website they weren’t supposed to, and Jim personally called me to let me know what was going on with that and tell me that Logic Shield had blocked the website in question from entering our firewall, so that it wouldn't impact our machine. He was very proactive and reached out to me before I even heard the news! I mean, what better support do you want?”
the logical choice
Logic Shield is now installed in 230 devices across 18 Willie’s Grill and Icehouse locations. Soon, Kevin has plans to install the solution within the corporate offices so they too can benefit from the Cisco Meraki firewall.
The security afforded by Logic Shield has prompted Kevin to do something he never before allowed: create a guest WiFi network, one that’s segmented from the restaurant’s business operations and offers a level of protection they’d never had previously.
“We never, ever allowed guest internet access with our previous vendor because I wasn't comfortable with turning it on. I just wasn't 100% sure that it would have been segmented and I didn't want to take the risk. So with the Cisco Meraki device, and with Jim's expertise, I'm super comfortable. I have insight to the network, so I can see that it's actually configured properly and I can go test it in store. I'm 100% confident that it's set up correctly. And I'm glad that we can offer that now to our guests.”
Logic Shield has enhanced the security picture at Willie’s, and in this way and others, it’s improved the guest and employee experience too.
To learn more about Logic Shield and how it can boost cybersecurity for your brand, contact us today for a free gap analysis. And if you’re in Texas, be sure to stop in to Willie’s Grill and Icehouse for some incredible scratch made Texas-sized comfort food.
At Willie’s Grill & Icehouse, everyone belongs. Started in 1993 as a humble burger joint in Houston, Texas, Willie’s has grown into a Texas institution with 18 locations statewide, beloved by millions as the family’s favorite place to unwind. At Willie’s, sandboxes and suds await the kids and young at heart, while wide-open giant garage doors reveal ample patio spaces with sandboxes and plenty of room to play and relax. Juicy burgers piled high with fixings anchor the Texas-sized menu of delicious Texas comfort food, promising something for everybody. For locations, hours, menus, and more, visit www.williesgrillandicehouse.com.
Kevin Smith is the IT Director for Willie’s Grill & Icehouse and has been with the brand for more than 28 years. He started in maintenance and construction before working in management and moving into IT as technology grew more important in the restaurant space. He works closely with marketing and operations teams to improve the Willie's brand. In the event he gets time away from Willie’s, he enjoys hiking and being someplace where there’s no cell service.
Over the past several years, Kevin has been been critical in helping Willie's upgrade its POS, back-office systems, inventory systems, firewalls, online ordering, payroll, email, security, and data center. Because online ordering and 3rd-party delivery services were all in place pre-COVID, Willie's was able to easily pivot during the pandemic, and corporate staff was able to work remotely as well. Kevin has made changes to the POS and ordering model specifically to reduce front of house labor and increase efficiencies while still providing the guest with a great experience.