With labor costs and rent rocketing upward at their upscale Peruvian restaurant, Raymi, the Torres family needed to increase their revenue. But they couldn’t afford to take on the additional cost of expanding into a new space. So, in the summer of 2016 in the Flatiron District of New York City, Latin Beet Kitchen was opened within Raymi’s dining room.
Originally from Colombia, the Torreses’ lives had long been consumed with food. “Food is what we talk about, we share a lot of dinners, we travel for food. We knew that at some point, that’s what we wanted to do [for a living],” says Roger Torres. In 2012, the three brothers and their father opened Raymi.
Roger runs the business side of the restaurants, his brothers Felipe and Jaime are the chefs and their father, Armin, adds the “familia” touch that turns customers into regulars. Raymi quickly became a dinner destination for its ceviche bar and unique Peruvian “platos” full of Chinese, Japanese and Spanish influences. But with rising overhead, their success was unsustainable. So they conceived of a fast-casual restaurant that would exist during their fine-dining restaurant’s non-operating hours.
The competition is what drives you to be more efficient.
To get Latin Beet Kitchen up and running, Roger applied many of the tricks of the trade he’d learned and evolved at Raymi. Three words define his business ethos: “Technology is everything.” Roger uses tech for point-of-sale, including analytics and reporting. And smartphones are ubiquitous among the Torres family. To Roger, apps aren’t just a shortened name for appetizers. They are, in many ways, the central nervous system of the business.
Mobile applications tell Roger how many people are in the restaurant at any moment, what people are ordering, how long parties are at tables, average check size, and much more. He uses Open Table for reservations, and it also tells him how many covers they’re doing each night. An app called Hot Scheduling facilitates labor management and staff scheduling, provides reporting and syncs with sales and projections for the following week. It also helps architect scheduling for a given week especially for things like special dinners and private parties. Latin Beet Kitchen is also aided by Chow Now, Postmates, UberEats, Aloha, and BevSpot.
While many restaurants would benefit from having such a broad portfolio of utilitarian apps, it’s especially important for Roger. He’s doesn’t have time to manage Latin Beet Kitchen because he’s frequently in the nation’s capital.
“I travel a lot because my family has another business in Washington DC. I have the apps so I can see everything from the business side.”
Roger has educated himself on much of the new technology he employs, but he also embraces the concept of collective intelligence. “I have been to networking events with people in the industry where we discuss technology, what software they are using, what is working, what is not working, and we share information.” Of course, these collaborators become competitors as soon as the next lunch crowd tumbles from offices of the Flatiron District. But Roger sees competition as a necessary motivator of success. Capitalism at work. “The competition is what drives you to be more efficient. We are forced to sell more, keep costs down, be efficient, keep your labor under control.”
The next step is to use their apps to grow their customer base. “We have a lot of data,” says Roger. “We have ordering, we have history. We can do a lot of marketing with that data, but we don’t have the tools to use it. That’s one of the things that we are still working on: finding Customer Relationship Management software that can help us manage our relationships with all of our customers.” Given his ability to find the technology to match every need, it’s safe to say he’ll find a way for a CRM to move to the rhythm of the Latin Beet Kitchen.
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