Blake's Lotaburger

Improving Security Operations at a Quick Service Restaurant Chain

“The quality and speed of service we get from Rhombus are incredible. Whether it's spending extra time answering a question, placing a special order, or proactively reaching out to check in, the Rhombus team is always there for us. It's a wonderful partnership.”

- Roger Hart-York, IT Operations Manager at Blake’s Lotaburger
The outside of a Blake's Lotaburger restaurant

About Blake's Lotaburger

Famous for their green chile cheeseburger, Blake's Lotaburger is a fast food restaurant chain and a New Mexico cultural icon. Since it was founded in 1952, Lotaburger has expanded to over 75 locations across New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. All restaurants are company owned, and Lotaburger currently has more than 1600 employees, with corporate headquarters located in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Challenges

Blake’s Lotaburger was spending a massive amount of time on video surveillance. Every restaurant had traditional security cameras with an NVR onsite and was managed internally by a corporate IT team of five.

Between the lack of remote access, the manual investigation process, and the difficulty of sharing footage, it took Lotaburger's IT team multiple days to resolve each incident.

User Experience Plagued with Inefficiencies

Because Lotaburger's old NVR system didn't have video analytics, the process of finding relevant footage was entirely manual. The IT team had to sit and scrub through the footage when an incident occurred. Even watching at 16x speed, investigating one incident could take up an entire day.

A Tedious and Cumbersome System

Lotaburger’s old system could only save footage in 100-second snippets. To download a 10-minute video, the IT team had to save, label, and stitch together dozens of separate video chunks.

Limited Remote Access with No Easy Way to Share Footage

To share security footage, an IT team member had to be physically onsite to retrieve the data from the NVR. It was time- consuming, difficult to scale, and involved many hours wasted traveling, especially now that Lotaburger's IT team manages locations in three different states.

The Trouble with Sharing

With no remote access, sharing footage meant downloading video from the NVR onto a physical DVD or USB drive. A member of the IT team had to drive to the restaurant in question and wait around while the video downloaded. Because the backup process happened in real time, this could take hours; downloading three hours of footage took three actual hours.

Poor Reliability Led to Missing Footage

Even though the Lotaburger team performs daily system checks, their old cameras would go down unexpectedly and create problems. There were times when a serious incident occurred, but they had zero footage because a camera had failed in between checks with no warning or indication.

According to Lotaburger's IT Operations Manager, Roger Hart-York, “with our old, antiquated NVR system, investigating just one incident would take me 2-3 days. I had to spend hours watching video to find one moment. It was a tedious and inefficient process.”

The Solution

Blake’s Lotaburger is deploying Rhombus to all restaurants. With Rhombus, Lotaburger has massively reduced the time it takes to investigate incidents and find footage.

Their IT team, led by Roger Hart-York, uses video surveillance to investigate security incidents, including robberies, missing deposits, and conflicts between staff members. By using Rhombus, they save hundreds of hours every month.

The Benefits

Fast Investigations with Built-In Video Analytics

Rhombus’ smart cameras automatically recognize and index different types of activity, including human movement. By simply viewing a camera’s video timeline, Roger’s team can immediately see when suspicious activity occurs and jump straight to the security footage.

Investigating a Break-In

When a restaurant was broken into overnight, Roger was able to find the relevant footage in seconds. He checked the video timeline, saw that there had been human activity onsite at 2:05 am, and jumped to the footage. Before Rhombus, he would have needed to watch hours of overnight video to find what he was looking for.

Easy Sharing of Security Footage

“I'm able to share video in an instant, with any number of people,” says Roger. With Rhombus, his team can save and share video clips quickly and securely by email, URL, or SMS. The process is remote and centralized, with no traveling required.

Sharing Video Evidence with Law Enforcement

After a restaurant experienced an armed robbery, an officer came by to gather evidence. Roger had already pinpointed the incident in the Rhombus Console and saved the footage. The video quality was so sharp that the writing on the culprit's demand note was readable when he handed it to the cashier.

With the Rhombus platform, Roger was able to send the footage to the police officer via email immediately. The process took only a few seconds and removed the need for a DVD or USB drive.

Improved Store Operations & Efficiency

Lotaburger store managers use data from their Rhombus cameras to understand patterns within their restaurants. The cameras count people and cars, and managers use that information to determine peak hours and schedule staff accordingly.

Line Busting with Real-Time Data

In addition to security purposes, some stores use their drive- thru cameras to monitor the line in real-time. During busy times, they send an employee out with a line-buster tablet to take orders on the fly.

Monitoring Restaurant Compliance

Regional managers use Rhombus to perform routine checks on stores to ensure operations are running smoothly. They've resolved conflicts between staff members and confirmed that employees are following necessary regulations—including COVID-19 mask protocols and PCI compliance regarding personal phones in the workplace.

Exposing Employee Fraud

Blake’s Lotaburger has caught two ex-employees committing credit card fraud. Store security cameras recorded them taking photos of customer cards. By submitting timestamped security footage from the Rhombus cameras, Lotaburger was able to provide law enforcement with the necessary evidence to hold the perpetrators responsible.

Simple, Straightforward Installation

For Roger’s IT team, installing Rhombus cameras is fast and streamlined. One person can set up an entire location alone, and the process is free of frustration and miscommunications.

“There’s no more, ‘Move it to the right! No, your other right!’” says Roger. “No one has to go up and down a ladder anymore to check if a camera is pointing in the right direction. I just look at the camera’s video feed on my phone, make minor adjustments, and seal it up.”

“Installation is simple and takes fewer people than before. I can send one person to set up an entire store and review the result remotely from my office—it’s that fast.”

High Reliability & Quality of Service

Rhombus’ automatic system health monitoring has enabled Blake’s Lotaburger to virtually eliminate camera downtime and missing footage. “If there’s a problem with a camera, I get an alert before I even know there’s an issue,” says Roger.

Before Rhombus, Lotaburger’s daily camera checks took 4-5 minutes per camera. Now, it takes just a few seconds to check an entire restaurant. Roger uses the Rhombus dashboard to see at a glance which cameras need attention or cleaning.

Poduim with two Rhombus cameras and a computer and phone showing the console
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