US Foods

Here’s How Two Owner-Operators Improved Back of House Efficiency

A restaurant’s success depends on supportive solutions.

In the hectic day-to-day of a restaurant environment, operators are challenged to overcome frequent—and often unexpected—obstacles. Between creating great meals and helping customers, a restaurateur must also manage inventory, pay bills, coordinate reservations, and schedule staff. And because an operator’s responsibilities are diverse, they must rely on their team-members to complete a diverse range of tasks, from front-of-house service to back-of-house prep work.

“Operators and chefs face a very high-stress work environment,” says Delaney Cade, assistant manager at Whiskeys on the Water in Detroit. “To keep a restaurant running smoothly, you need your staff at 100 percent, both physically and mentally.”

At PersNIKKIty’s Cafe in Show Low, Arizona, co-owner and operator Nikki Rose—a 20-year veteran of the foodservice industry—says her team juggles 12-hour shifts and 50-100 phone calls per day for delivery and to-go orders alone.

“It’s very taxing on your body,” Rose says. “But when you have a passion for what you do, it’s not just serving food. There’s a lot of pressure to succeed because you’re putting your ‘art’ on a plate to be judged and critiqued.”

To ensure that operators and staff alike can do their best work, it is essential for restaurants to partner with vendors that understand day-to-day challenges well enough to provide relevant support. Whiskeys on the Water, for example, relies on solutions that help operators to focus on the people in front of them—maximizing the benefits of technology, streamlining employee communications, and ensuring consistent customer experiences.

“We need partnerships that fully understand our business,” Cade says. “We look for partners that can understand our challenges and offer us relevant solutions even as we grow and change.”

At Whiskeys on the Water, Cade says one of the biggest problems used to be inventory control. The management team was spending money on a weekly basis but did not receive timely information that would have helped to resolve issues quickly. By working with a restaurant operations consultant from US Foods, however, Cade and her team were able to identify a management software product called Avero that has dramatically improved day-to-day operations.

Similarly, Rose and her husband Robert, who is co-owner of the cafe, have been able to implement a variety of operational solutions for their business, from improved scheduling technology with Homebase, to a new website with BentoBox and a customer rewards program called OptSpot.

“We can buy food from anyone, but the guidance and tools our US Foods team has shared with us have taken our small business to the next level,” Rose says. “We’ve now been operating for eight years and we never could have imagined the success we have now.”

At the end of the day, working with a vendor that has an intimate knowledge of an operator’s daily challenges also helps to ensure that when problems do arise, they can be resolved quickly. And when operations become more efficient, team members tend to be happier, which results in better performance and lower turnover.

“The US Foods team really cares about our restaurant’s success and tries to help us in every way to run the best business we can,” Cade says. “In the busy and hectic restaurant industry, it is always nice to know that someone has your back.”