• Wednesday , 27 October 2021

New restaurant experience enhanced – even in lockdown

Phil’s BBQ is a fast, casual, sports themed restaurant chain that has become a household name in the San Diego area. Their unique process for barbecue creates meat that’s moist and falls off the bone. Patrons will wait for hours, with lines out the door just to get a taste of Phil’s barbecue and take in its sports experience.

Phil’s BBQ started as a single, small restaurant in the San Diego area with excellent food. As it surged in popularity, owner Phil Pace decided to close the original location to open a larger restaurant with greater capacity. Moving to a new location also presented the opportunity to invest in digital signage to bring the sports aspect of the restaurant to life.

Phil’s BBQ turned to Fluid Sound, a local AV installer, to provide the backbone in what would become a key component of the restaurant’s ambiance.

The results were phenomenal. The Phil’s BBQ experience became akin to a raging tailgate party with friends. The grills were located right behind the counter where diners could see them, the smell of smoky food filled the air, and the high-energy feeling was fuelled by an array of large format displays from NEC Display with sports feeds of every type imaginable.

After opening several additional locations with Fluid Sound’s Support, the chain’s COO, Kevin Sheehan, came up with a novel idea. What if the next location Phil’s featured a jumbotron, just like in a real stadium? Fluid Sound jumped at the opportunity and set out to design a solution that would bring the stadium aesthetic to life.


Fluid Sound already had a strong foundation to build on for Phil’s BBQ’s next location. Digital signage played a huge role in previous locations, providing not only sports content, but also dynamic menu boards, and displays indicating how much longer customers could expect to wait before getting their hands on some delicious barbecue.

Fluid Sound knew exactly who they wanted to work with, because it’s the same manufacturer they worked for the previous restaurants – NEC Display. “The NEC displays look great right out of the box,” said Dennis Pappenfus, CEO of Fluid Sound. “We did some very basic colour correction once the units were installed, but that was all that was needed.”

Other than looking great out of the box, the NEC large format displays brought other benefits as well. The density of digital signage and the nature of having multiple games on at once meant that Fluid Sound needed to manage content from dozens of different sources.

The stadium experience

NEC large format displays create total immersion and the ultimate sports restaurant by combining elements of big stadium and the tailgating experiences with excellent barbecue. Wall-to-wall sports content appeas;s the sports lovers in all of us, complete with a Jumbotron centrepiece. Phil’s BBQ has become the go-to game day destination. Fortunately, the C series displays provided Ethernet connectivity for IP control. This was essential for easy setup and for reliability.

With Fluid Sound’s “AV over IP” design, the video content signal utilized the existing Ethernet network to transmit the HDMI video, while the control signal was sent via a separate VLAN and was managed by NEC’s control API. This created a robust solution where the control network was separate from the video distribution network, eliminating the risk of network saturation. As an extra level of reliability, any issues that would potentially arise in one network would be isolated from the other.

The installations’ crown jewel, the jumbotron, required some additional design work, including a custom mounting solution. Fluid Sound worked with RP Visual Solutions for the mount and frame that would contain and hold the jumbotron up. Here, NEC Display provided another invaluable advantage over the competition.

In order to design the jumbotron with RP Visual Solutions, Fluid Sound needed access to NEC Display’s product design specifications. NEC provided easy access to CAD renderings of

its products. Not all manufacturers are as willing as NEC to work with partners to provide this level of technical data, but NEC was eager to put Fluid Sound in touch with the appropriate contact to provide the needed files.

The result is wall-to-wall coverage along the inside of the restaurant. The bar area in particular has such a density of digital signage that it has been compared to a sports book in Las Vegas, including an LED score ticker to help fans keep track of multiple games.

Phil’s newest location in Temecula, California is the first restaurant with the jumbotron feature. It opened just in time for the Fourth of July weekend to a crowd of excited sports and barbecue fans. The Jumbotron is easily the location’s most eye-catching feature. Sitting in its custom mounting solution above the dining area, it is visible from almost any angle inside the restaurant and enhances the sense of being immersed in the sports experience.

The addition of the Jumbotron was so impressive and well received that it is a planned feature for all future Phil’s BBQ locations. The reliability of the overall system, including the NEC display units and the content delivery system, ensures that Phil’s BBQ staff can spend their time cooking delicious barbeque instead of maintaining the displays. Phil’s patrons come from all around the area to get a taste of the restaurant’s delicious signature dishes and take in the sports experience.

The solution

  • C431 43 inch thin-depth commercial display, with failover capabilities and enough brightness to be seen from anywhere
  • C651Q 65-inch industrial grade 4K UHD commercial displays, with myriad options for connectivity
  • C861 86-inch ultra-high definition display, providing a massive, central focal point for sports content
  • E557Q 55-inch 4K UHD display with integrated ATSC/NTSC Tuners and integrated 10 W speakers


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