Trip Turbyfill and his wife Marila opened Café Strudel in West Columbia, South Carolina, in 1997. The small, homey space had few tables, but enjoyed immediate success and quickly built a loyal following. Over the last two decades Cafe Strudel has expanded their services to include catering, private dining, and a full-service bar.

 

The Challenge

Turbyfill’s restaurant attempted to manage their waitlist with pen and paper. The busier they got, the harder it became to manage paper lists. Wait times were long and unpredictable, and the cafe was losing business.

With a lack of data and information, Trip said it was, “as if I was in the dark ages.” A small, packed restaurant is not the best place to have the foot traffic of the hosts running back and forth to check every table, so FOH sta was never able to make accurate predictions about wait times. Were the guests at Table #7 just seated, eating their main course, or about to pay the check? It was impossible to tell.

Cafe Strudel wasn’t alone. A recent Gartner-owned company conducted a survey that found 55% of restaurant owners were not using any kind of Point of Sale system or restaurant management software. However, their pen and paper system just couldn’t keep up with their growth.

The Turbyfills realized that technology was the best solution to improve operations without affecting the guest experience. They hoped to increase table turns by improving the flow of information.

 

The Objective

At Café Strudel, hosts needed to work more efficiently to improve table turns. At such a busy restaurant, any new technology had to fit into operations seamlessly, without a huge investment of time and money into staff training. In short, the solution had to work as hard for the restaurant as the Turbyfills themselves. Trip Turbyfill and his wife Marila opened Café Strudel in West Columbia, South Carolina, in 1997. The small, homey space had few tables, but enjoyed immediate success and quickly built a loyal following. Over the last two decades Cafe Strudel has expanded their services to include catering, private dining, and a full-service bar.

 

The Solution

The Turbyfills decided to implement CAKE Guest Manager to manage their tables in April 2015. They also integrated CAKE Point of Sale, which sends orders, updates and other notifications instantly from FOH to BOH, improving workflow at every level and streamlining customer service.

“I had it for 30 days and after that, I didn’t know how I had ever done it before,” Trip Turbyfill said.

INTEGRATION & PLUG AND PLAY

The installation and training needed for a new POS and guest management system can be a major commitment. CAKE’s plug and play systems save businesses time and money. Cafe Strudel’s integration was completed in minutes. After set-up, staff were able to use it with no additional training.

“It falls in line with an iPhone in terms of dragging and switching seating arrangements and menu items,” says Turbyfill. “It is intuitive. When I use modifiers and customize orders, all I have to do is click, drag, and drop.”

With Guest Manager connected to CAKE’s POS, Café Strudel’s entire staff gets table statuses in real-time. The staff doesn’t need to constantly check each table or manually update table statuses.

Whenever customers are seated, order, are served, or get their check the system automatically updates in real-time. Every update on the POS automatically passes through to Guest Manager’s system and updates the waitlist.

When Cafe Strudel waiters enter orders on the POS, Guest Manager updates the customer’s status from “seated” to “ordered.” Guest Manager uses these updates to notify guests waiting for a table how long they’ll be waiting without guests needing to wait near the busy restaurant.

Guest have more freedom while they wait and hosts can focus on their work without having to manage the timing of the waitlist.

 

The Results

INCREASING TABLE TURNS AND REVENUE

Café Strudel increased table turns by 6% without disrupting workflow. More tables turned resulted in more revenue. As Trip puts it, “CAKE Guest Manager and POS integration allows us to reduce the time a table sits without guests. This has allowed us to seat two extra tables per day, adding up to a projected $14,000 in additional revenue, just this year.”

REDUCTION IN WALK-AWAYS

Guest Manager greatly reduced walkaways at Café Strudel. The ability to text predicted wait times to guests anywhere is a huge benefit to the restaurant. Congestion around the host stand has eased, making waiting itself more comfortable. Walkaways were also reduced by 28% compared to their pen and paper method.

MORE TIME AND CONTROL

CAKE is cloud-based, empowering the Turbyfills to access real-time data anywhere. While Café Strudel operates at full-speed during a busy Saturday brunch, Trip frequently tracks revenue, table turns, and sees which menu items are most popular from the front porch of his house. Currently, he uses this function 2-3 times per day. “Any good operator is going to keep an eye on the numbers,” says Trip – but now, he can watch them closely whether or not he’s at work.

 

Additional Value Provided

PINPOINTING INEFFICIENCIES

In the past, the Turbyfills had no way to measure staff inefficiencies. The communication between CAKE’s POS and Guest Manager allows for the collection of important data, such as the time it takes for a guest to order after being seated. As Trip points out, “In the past I only had anecdotal data or estimates. With this system I have a complete picture and can identify when service slows down or who is working more efficiently than others”.

 

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Based in Silicon Valley, CAKE is a Sysco company offering restaurant-specific technology solutions. CAKE’s platform seamlessly integrates front and back of house restaurant operations, allowing restaurant owners and operators to achieve unparalleled visibility into and control over their point of sale, table and waitlist management, menu pricing, guest preference tracking, reservations systems, inventory and payroll.