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Tablet to Eliminate Service Bottlenecks

Aceituna ( is a Cambridge, MA-based cafÉ that serves Mediterranean and Lebanese cuisine. The gourmet restaurant with a quick-service model opened its doors in 2004 and used standard cash registers for years. Situated in a fast-growing business district, quality food and speed of service is a top priority. Backups at the point of sale led co-owner Samer Malak to investigate what was causing the problem. He shares his story with HT.

By 2011, we noticed that most customers used credit cards to pay for their meals. It quickly became evident that the delays were not because of service shortcomings, but rather were due to the cash register we were using. My co-owner and I started looking into POS systems that would help speed lines and process more transactions per hour.

As fortune would have it, we were introduced to a new mobile POS by three of our regular customers. College students at the time, they stopped by the restaurant and showed us the mobile POS tablet prototype that they had created. They asked if they could pick our brains about how our operations worked. We spent a great deal of time talking about what features we needed from a POS system to support our busy restaurant. That was how Aceituna became one of Leaf’s ( first customers.

I was nervous about switching systems because Aceituna serves so many people a day, but Leaf’s interface made it easy. First, they built a tablet-based version of our entire menu. Then they trained the staff to use the tablets, which didn’t take much time at all; being tablet-based, learning Leaf was quite intuitive.

Back-office tools yield valuable data
After using the Leaf POS system for several weeks, we started digging into Leaf’s back-office business tools to figure out which of our items were most frequently ordered. Knowing this granular data is important due to the restaurant’s growth. Since implementing Leaf, Aceituna turns over roughly 400 customers during the lunch rush alone, a 20 percent increase. The Leaf team built a “popular items” screen that now serves as a top-level menu. Ninety percent of Aceituna customers order items from this list, which helps cashiers to quickly process guests.

Leaf POS complements the Aceituna business model because cash transactions are no longer as frequent as credit card transactions. Roughly 90 percent of customers pay with credit cards. The Leaf tablet’s secure built-in card swiper makes it possible for lunch cashiers to swipe and move customers quickly through the line.

Leaf has helped reduce the amount of time spent managing tedious paperwork. This necessary evil required hours devoted to collecting Aceituna’s daily receipts, saving them, calculating them, and adding them into QuickBooks. By digitizing receipts and integrating with QuickBooks, Leaf has permanently removed that burden resulting in hours that can be spent better managing and improving business practices in other areas.

Every transaction is tracked and can be accessed online. I am not an accountant, and the IRS is not merciful. If we made mistakes calculating receipts we would eventually pay for them, but now everything, including individual order and employee details, is stored online and Aceituna’s accountant can log in to pull all the information needed. Leaf has made it easy to see where our money is going. The Leaf system tallies earnings, tracks labor statistics and pay rates, and generates detailed reports. Data can be quickly imported into accounting and payroll apps. The system provides a wide-angle view of all areas of a business, exposing trends and issues, making them easy to identify and address.

Because the Leaf system in Aceituna was designed with our team’s input, it perfectly suits our business needs. As Aceituna prepares for expansion, we plan to implement Leaf from day one as we open other locations. 

Samer Malak is the co-owner of Aceituna Cafe in Cambridge, MA. The Cafe opened its doors in 2004, and serves Mediterranean and Lebanese cuisine.
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