Since 1950, Harold’s Chicken Shack has been a Chicago institution, particularly on the city’s South Side, and is loved for its uniquely prepared chicken and special sauces.
Founder Harold Pierce built the business into a true success story, expanding first into downtown and the West Side, then further afield, into northwest Indiana, Detroit, Milwaukee, Las Vegas, Madison (WI), Dallas, and, in 2012, into the Atlanta area. The Atlanta location, dubbed “Harold’s Chicken & Ice Bar,” features a more traditional sit-down sports-bar atmosphere that has since become the model for “Harold’s Bar & Grill” locations that are now open in Chicago.
INEX Systems & Designs, an Atlanta-based custom systems integrator, brought in AV over IP solutions from the technology team at Key Digital to keep Harold’s at the top of its game, starting this summer with their newest area location, in Marietta, Georgia. That pilot system included the KD-IP922ENC 4K UHD AV over IP Encoder, the KD-IP822ENC 4K UHD AV over IP Encoder, and the KD-IP822DEC 4K UHD AV over IP Decoder.
“Harold’s in Marietta was the first one that we did with the Key Digital AV over IP matrix,” says Zebadiah Henry, CEO and owner of the thirteen-year-old integration firm. “The matrix is a 10-by-23, so that means 10 sources by 23 TVs around the restaurant, as well as two video DJ booths. They do karaoke nights and things like that, and they use the system for those, as well. A lot of variety.”
Henry says he used a combination of the KD-IP922ENC and KD-IP822ENC encoders, with the 922 model providing audio de-embedding of the video sources in the rack. Both models provide reliable and easy-to-use basic system control, such as video on and off, and volume control via an iPad using the Key Digital app. Another major component was the use of a pair of KD-X2X1WVTx Wall Plate Switchers, which allow DJs and video DJs the ability to quickly and easily plug their gear into the house sound and video system’s IP matrix.
“Using an IP-based solution for Harold’s delivers cost-effective yet sophisticated features with reliable operation,” says Henry. “Key Digital is priced right for all the features they give you.” Most importantly, he adds, “It gives their patrons a great experience on game day. They can have multiple games on in whatever order they want them to do them, or fight night where all the TVs are on the same channel and the sound fills the room.
“Plus, in any configuration, the audio for every television is completely in synch, with absolutely no latency. The ability to break out audio from certain sources, which we can do with the 922ENC, is huge. Just a three-pin connector and you’re there.”
Henry says the reaction at Harold’s has been excellent, with great video and audio quality but also some very practical benefits. “The system has brought a lot of new business because of the way they can show games and do themed events like fight nights,” says Henry, who is gearing up to install more Key Digital components in forthcoming Harold’s venues, including the next ones in Duluth, Georgia, and Charlotte, North Carolina.
“And the staff and managers love it—any new staff member can easily learn how to access any source to any TV, and the managers can show them how on the iPad. Simple, easy, reliable, every time. Key Digital just works.”