Ian Hacon and Chris Carr bought Zaks Diners in early 2020, with big plans to expand its American-style diners in Norwich, UK. Core to this expansion was selecting Oracle MICROS Simphony Point-of-Sale (POS) to streamline its backend operations and create new business opportunities. Once the pandemic hit, closing in-door dining, Simphony became a lifeline in supporting new services, including take-out ordering and food trucks, to keep the business moving and loyal customers fed and happy.
“All small businesses face a similar challenge of being able to be as robust as our major competitors, while remaining nimble,” said Carr. “COVID-19 only accelerated that need. Oracle’s cloud POS platform allows us to continually innovate and adapt. It’s great to know that whatever challenge arises and no matter how we choose to expand operations and open new locations, Oracle will be able to scale with us.”
While the owners wanted to preserve the nostalgic feel that Zaks has fostered as a local institution for over 40 years, they also wanted to test new avenues to serve diners. When stay-at-home orders hit in March 2020, they had to quickly find new ways to interact with its growing customer base. The new takeaway and food truck services were a huge success. Zaks integrated with OpenTable to allow customers to schedule their takeaway orders. By slotting bookings in advance, Zaks can ensure an excellent customer experience with the right mix of staffing.
Using Oracle MICROS Simphony the restaurant can now control the flow of takeaway preorders to the kitchen’s display system, ensuring that meals are only fired in the kitchen at the optimal time to ensure they are piping hot and ready when the customer arrives at their selected collection time.
The system also provides the chain analytics needed to manage operations efficiency and track which menu items are selling well and which are underperforming. Having a single view of data from all three restaurants enables Zaks to refine business operations and keep trying out new ideas.
“We’re in the business of offering a great guest experience and putting smiles on people’s faces,” said Zaks joint-owner Hacon. “The Oracle system never lets us down and enables us to continually innovate, keep up with the latest restaurant trends, and build a loyal customer base that keeps coming back.”
Old and New
Harkening back to the early days of the restaurant, Zaks brought back its legendary ‘car meet-ups,’ where diners can get their meals from new mobile burger vans ‘Lil Blue’ and ‘Big Red.’ To streamline operations, servers use handheld tablets to take orders directly from the line, reducing waiting time. Orders are automatically sent to the kitchen and a Bluetooth printer provides diners with a numbered ticket for old school charm. When ready, the order is called out from the burger van.
“Zaks has made the connection with their customer and the experience they receive the number one priority for their business, and they needed tools to quickly adapt to the evolving needs of the community,” said Simon de Montfort Walker, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Food and Beverage. “As the restaurant continues to expand, Oracle will be there as the platform for growth, no matter what form that takes. We look forward to Zaks unlocking the full potential of the technology as we partner along the journey.”