rom opening ghost kitchens and launching virtual brands to rolling out new tech at a record pace ... there are a lot of wins and lessons learned in 2020 that will shape the restaurant industry for years to come.
To bring the focus to the creativity and willingness to experiment exhibited by the entire restaurant industry, Wisely’s CEO Mike Vichich had a 1:1 conversation with restaurateur, chef, and entrepreneur Kimbal Musk who is CEO and Co-Founder of The Kitchen Restaurant Group.
For Context, The Kitchen Restaurant Group partners with Wisely for Waitlist & Reservations and Marketing Automation.
Click the play button below to watch the full conversation, or scroll for highlights.
How 2020 Cleared the Way for Restaurant Innovation
At the beginning of 2020, The Kitchen Restaurant Group had the basics of a digital customer relationship in place, collecting emails via WiFi sign-ups. But, like many other restaurant brands, the shock of shut-downs and lack of indoor dining threw the door wide-open for necessary innovation.
“For probably two years I had been in my head really wanting to digitize the ability to order food to your table,” Musk said.
Staring down a two-month shut-down, Musk had the window, and the motivation, to make the leap.
“I knew that an app could be built on top of Olo, could be built on on top of Wisely,” Musk said, "so I actually reached out to you Mike and said 'hey, who could build this for me quickly?' and you passed me to Mobelux.” He continued, “we had two months to shut down and I wanted to be done by the middle of May. Pretty aggressive timeline.”
Planning for the Customer of the Future with Restaurant Software
The Kitchen’s App rolled out just in time for restaurant re-openings, transforming dining room ops with customers being able to read the menu, order, and pay at the table.
“We want to double down on hospitality,” Musk said. He continued, “it does help our labor model a little bit, but [...] absolutely it’s more about convenience and a better experience for the guest."
While making for a seamless customer experience, these innovations have also kept staff and customers safe, and allowed for a more efficient dining room. “We are seeing that servers instead of being able to serve four tables, they’re able to serve five or six tables, and as we get better at this they might be able to serve seven or eight tables, and that just means more money in the pocket for the servers,” Musk said.
How Technology Enhances the Humanity of the Restaurant Industry
When it comes down to it, integrating technology into restaurants is about reducing friction and paving the way for more connection.
“Every single person who’s listening and every person who’s a restaurant owner knows the pain of someone trying to hail their server or trying to order another round of drinks or trying to get the check,” Musk said. He added that these pain points are “a negative on the experience, and technology can solve that problem.”
Customers are voicing their approval by adopting the app. Since the beginning of COVID The Kitchen Restaurant Group has seen 267,000 guests opt in to email marketing. Musk’s team is busy pioneering new ways to connect with, surprise, and delight guests on all channels, (including upcoming SMS marketing campaigns—powered by Wisely).
Image provided by Next Door American Eatery