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How Souvla is Leveraging Tech to Manage Costs

Souvla CEO and Founder Charles Bililies, who operates 3 fast-casual Greek restaurants, says online ordering accounts for 38% of his business.

Automating the AP process has saved valuable money for Souvla CEO and Founder Charles Bililies, catching price increases on items as mundane as yogurt – which for a Greek restaurant can have a pretty big impact on the bottom line. Plate IQ also provides insights into costs. When he was evaluating his overall cost of lamb last year, he turned to Plate IQ, showing his supplier his ordering and cost trends and negotiating a better deal for the next year. Hospitality Technology reached out to get some more details on this concept's approach to tech. 


HT: Tell us about your fast casual Greek restaurant concept.
CB: Souvla is a fast-fine Greek restaurant with locations in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley, NoPa and Mission neighborhoods, inspired by casual souvlaki joints found throughout Greece. We rotisserie roast naturally-raised meats and wrap them in our warm, fluffy pita bread with seasonal salads and Greek yogurt sauces. (The word “souvla” means “spit” or “skewer” in Greek — the rod on which meat is roasted.) There are three locations in San Francisco with our fourth opening in San Francisco’s Marina District later this year.

HT: Tell us how Souvla uses technology? FOH and BOH?  How have these technologies changed your business?
CB:  A forward-thinking, curated "ecosystem" of technology powers the Souvla enterprise. My desire to change the status quo of restaurants being behind the times from a technology standpoint has allowed our operations to be built from the ground up using the latest technology to power everything from POS and delivery to team communication and even the lights in the restaurant.

HT: How is automation driving business improvement?
CB: Automation not only reduces the amount of time it takes for our guests to receive their order, but also the time our restaurant and kitchen managers need to be in the office rather than with guests or in the kitchen, which is the core of their respective roles. Plate IQ has helped us improve and automate our invoice processing by our managers, saving them time and improving accuracy. Because Plate IQ automatically captures all invoice details, the technology helps eliminates the risk of manual-entry errors and reduces the amount of time managers must spend on administrative tasks. In our restaurants, online and delivery orders are auto-accepted and auto-printed, which allows us to keep ticket times incredibly short. This, combined with the maximization of all our technology channels allows our three restaurants to serve over 2,500 people each and every day!

HT: How does Souvla use technology to manage inventory/ AP?
CB: Plate IQ’s price tracking and spend analysis tools help us keep track of all price changes for key restaurant purchases on one simple dashboard. Since partnering, we have been able to streamline our supply chain and eliminate dishonest vendors who were increasing prices without telling us. (Editor's note: Last year, when evaluating the overall cost of lamb, the first piece of data he turned to was Plate IQ, showing his supplier his ordering and cost trends and negotiating a better deal for the next year.These features also allowed to successfully move to contract pricing with our meat distributor and provide us with valuable insight and leverage during annual price negotiations.

HT: Tell us about Souvla’s experience with online/digital ordering.  
CB: Souvla's longstanding partnership with Square (and Caviar) has allowed us to push the envelope with respect to online ordering, either for in-store pickup or delivery. Approximately 38%  -- and growing --  of Souvla's business comes via our online ordering page or from delivery. Souvla is proud to have partnered with Caviar as its exclusive delivery provider. Delivery represents 28% of our business and continues to grow each quarter.

HT: Your new location in the Marina is set to open later this year.  What technologies will it use? 
CB: Souvla's new Marina location will feature the latest generation of tech hardware and software that we continue to refine and improve upon. The biggest change will be a dedicated, street-facing pickup window for online and delivery orders, which will improve the in-store experience for our guests. 

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