The demand for restaurants to provide delivery service has been steadily increasing for a number of years. The events of the last few months have accelerated the need for many businesses to launch online ordering. With the potential for customers to make real-world visits limited, one way of maintaining a revenue stream is to sell products online for local delivery and pick-up.
Pacino’s has been a hugely popular venue in Dublin’s culinary scene since the mid-90s. Located in the heart of the city, it has established a strong reputation by providing fine Italian cuisine to tourists and locals alike.
The main restaurant opens at 10am every morning offering scones, pastries and coffees, rolling into a popular lunch venue and then offering a dinner menu until 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays, (10pm Sunday to Thursday). In addition to the main restaurant, they also run the The Blind Pig, a New York style speakeasy offering high end cocktails in a stylish environment.
Michael Martin took over the business in 2006 and has seen more than his fair share of changing business conditions, but nothing quite like what the COVID-19 pandemic has brought.
“Our business was almost entirely bookings, walk-ins and private parties. Once lockdown came, our revenues stopped overnight. We did some deliveries, but it quickly became clear that we would need to adjust our operations to get some income coming in the door. talech’s online ordering meant we could get set up quickly, scale up our delivery business and we haven’t looked back,” explained Michael.
Prior to the COVID restrictions, Pacino’s had been using a delivery platform to facilitate online selling, but it was costly.
“It was bringing in some revenue, but they were taking up to 30% commission for using the service. talech has been great for us. With the Online Ordering website and Elavon’s processing, we can handle it all ourselves. We have a range of sandwiches, pasta dishes, pizzas, cocktails, wine and beer that people can buy online. They can either arrange a time to pick it up themselves or have it delivered.”
The Online Ordering also provided the opportunity for not just his kitchen staff to get back to work, but also some of the front of house team.
“When the lockdown started our waitstaff weren’t able to work so when we launched Online Ordering, they were only too happy to get involved and help with the deliveries. Typically, we have four or five vehicles on the road on a given night and they go to all corners of the city. Some are just down the road, while others are right out to the outskirts of Dublin.”
Some businesses may be able to offer their full menu for online ordering, but Michael suggests that trimming down the products for online ordering to focus on some of your best sellers may also be a good idea.
“Keep it simple. I was very aware that some of our more complex dishes would not arrive to the customer at the standard we set for ourselves, so we didn’t offer them online. It’s easy to select the products you want to make available for online ordering and remove any products that won’t travel well. Even pizza, I found out the hard way early on! When you’re transporting it, you need to keep it absolutely level. If it’s slightly tilted, the toppings can move and you end up with half a pizza heavily covered in toppings and half a pizza that’s just tomato sauce!”
While delivery wasn’t new to Michael and his team, the scale at which they are now fulfilling online orders has required some adjustments to make the process as efficient as possible.
“Managing customer expectations is important. Even though some of our orders are going in excess of 10 or 15km, we aim to have all our food to the customers within an hour. We like to plan things out so our drivers are leaving with six or seven orders at a time for a certain area and not zigzagging. For some of the longer journeys, we talk to the customer and let them know that by the time we cook the meal from scratch and get it delivered, one hour might be a stretch. It’s a great endorsement of what we’re doing to get these orders coming in from far afield, but we also need to let them know that short of breaking speed limits, the wait-time might be slightly longer.”
As of Monday June 29th, Ireland’s restaurants were permitted to open their doors to the public once more, albeit with social distancing measures in place, something that is likely to impact businesses like Pacino’s for some time to come.
“It’s great to be up and running again, but we’ve lost 30% of our table due to the spacing requirements. Online Ordering is going to be important to my business long in to the future.”
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