Restaurants all face the same problem during primetime hours: keeping up with the crowd. On the one hand, long lines are a welcome indication of a restaurant’s popularity and success. However, busy restaurants typically lead to stretched staff, slower service, frustrated customers and, as a result, a loss in potential revenue.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Just look at Inside The Box Café, the social enterprise of Metropolitan Ministries, a local Tampa Bay facility for the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless. The café has two locations: a catering facility and an airport location in Tampa, Florida.
As is the case for many restaurants, lunch hour at Inside The Box Café is particularly busy, and the staff often has a hard time keeping up with the volume of guests and orders. At one point, to accommodate the rush, the staff at Inside The Box Café began to walk through the lines with notepads and pens to take down as many orders as they could to help the line move quickly. Though this helped to speed up service, it often led to chaos, with orders getting lost in translation and misplaced within the growing pile.
Inside The Box Café’s owner, Cliff Barsi, recognized the need for change and began the search for a new solution to alleviate the long lines. His quest was driven by his belief that there had to be a better way to take orders than with a pen and paper, so he turned to technology for the answer.
Mr. Barsi adopted CAKE’s mobile line-busting extension called CAKE OrderPad, which allows staff to take orders and customers to make payments directly from the mobile tablet, while still in line. In contrast to the antiquated pen and paper method, OrderPad orders directly feed into the main POS system and print tickets for the kitchen. This not only cuts down on the staff’s time, but also eliminates any confusion about the status of an order ticket. With this system in place, on a perfect day, people can pick up their order by the time they reach the front of the line to pay.
By implementing OrderPads, Inside The Box Café was able to increase their total revenue during their peak hour (12-1pm) by more than 12 percent. On Mondays—which account for more than 25 percent of their weekly revenue—Inside The Box Café saw revenue increases of 32 percent. Also, contrary to popular belief, the implementation of this technology did not create a barrier between staff and customers. In fact, it lifted barriers and increased interaction.
Ultimately, the true impact of OrderPad adoption for Inside The Box Café is that Mr. Barsi can now focus his energy on the mission of his restaurant. For more than four years, all proceeds from the breakfast and lunchtime meals at Inside The Box Café have been used to feed homeless or at-risk Tampa Bay citizens. Improved efficiencies in ordering have meant an increase in revenue for the restaurant, and in turn a greater ability for Inside The Box Café to give back to the Tampa Bay community.
What’s more, the employees who make the meals are part of Inside The Box’s Culinary Arts Program, which employs them in the restaurant and allows them to get job experience and learn the skills necessary to enter the culinary industry—as well as other industries—to overcome homelessness.
Working with CAKE’s system has also brought the added benefit of getting Inside The Box staff exposed to technology that will benefit their career development. “Part of our mission is to give our staff the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in this or any other industry. By making technology an integrated part of their daily work life, I do believe we add a vital skillset for them,” said Mr. Barsi.