Independent Italian Restaurant Leans Into Online Ordering
HT talks with Robert Devine, Managing Partner of From the Boot, a sit-down restaurant in Philadelphia, about how it embraced online ordering to ramp up its off-premises business.
HT: Share with us a brief history of your restaurant.
Robert Devine, Managing Partner, From the Boot: Founded in 1999, From the Boot is a northern Philadelphia-based, Italian-inspired small restaurant chain with three locations in Ambler, Lafayette Hill and Blue Bell. Our flagship location is in Ambler, and it includes a full wine cellar, along with a full dining room and bar to host private parties and events. The restaurant is known for its great food, comfortable environment, professional service and reasonable prices.
HT: What was the state of affairs before C-19? % of dine in vs. carry out vs. third- party delivery?
Devine: Prior to the pandemic, From the Boot had a heavy and healthy stream of dine-in traffic. While our best customers were in-house seating, we saw about 10-15% in carry-out order volume, and today we are seeing close to a 50/50 split on carry out versus dine in. For delivery, we were engaged with Uber pre-pandemic, and then partnered with Grubhub more recently. Third-party delivery comprises about 10% of our total volume.
HT: How has your business transformed?
Devine: Before COVID-19, we were very focused on boosting our brand awareness in the community through social media and marketing planning and tactics. Then the pandemic hit and it changed everything. … We needed to quickly pivot our business model in order to generate revenue and survive.
HT: What tech solutions did you deploy?
Devine: We engaged immediately with Clover, our trusted and existing technology partner, to provide us a new online ordering solution – Clover Online Ordering – and an updated Clover point-of-sale device.
The Clover team helped From the Boot immediately integrate Clover Online Ordering, a new online ordering feature that simplifies the order management process by aggregating all customer orders and payments from our website in one centralized place, to our Clover POS system. Within hours of the Clover product team arriving to our restaurants to deploy this technology in March, we saw new orders coming in which was both impressive and a relief, and testimony to their commitment to supporting small businesses.
HT: What are/were the results of using these solutions?
Devine: Since the integration, From the Boot was not only able to continue working and feeding the local community, but also we saw improved service from our staff, which resulted in better customer experience. We have seen consistent, positive online reviews by customers, and thanks to Clover Online Ordering, From the Boot has also seen an uptick in order volume per ticket. Now, families are placing large orders for the week (not just for the night) as they shelter in place to watch Netflix in their homes.
Pre-pandemic, we would have one employee answering phones to handle carry-out orders, but today, we have expanded our technology capabilities with Clover and Clover Online Ordering to better streamline our orders. This has helped to free up employee time to focus on service. This has been a win-win in terms of boosting customer satisfaction and supporting our business operations during these uncertain times.
HT: How are things going today?
Devine: Similar to almost all restaurants, things are changing on almost on a daily basis. From the Boot is now open for outdoor dining with social distancing guidelines; operating at about 25% capacity. Today and moving forward, Clover’s technology will help our restaurants improve the overall guest experience, and we look forward to staying proactive, agile and innovative during these challenging times.