Urban Wok Opens with Emphasis on Technology

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Urban Wok Opens with Emphasis on Technology

Urban Wok, a fast-casual Asian restaurant in St. Paul, Minn., opened Oct. 1 with an emphasis on clean food and technology. To ensure guests have a positive dining experience, Urban Wok partnered with Toast to offer in-store kiosks as well as order status updates via text message. The restaurant also operates in a completely cash-free environment.

To learn more about the restaurant's use of these technologies and how they've improved the customer experience and back of house operations, Hospitality Technology interviewed Mark Toth, founder, Urban Wok.

HT: Why did Urban Wok decide to implement self-ordering kiosks? 

TOTH: In a world that is moving more and more to a cashless transaction model, utilizing kiosks allows Urban Wok to interact with our customers and be on the forefront of technology. We believe that intuitive technology is the future and will play a significant role in the overall customer experience.  Some of the benefits to kiosks are speed, convenience, and ease of use for the consumer. Several consumers have told us: “This is so cool and so easy.” Additionally, once a consumer visits Urban Wok and pays, the order is memorized. When they come back and swipe their card again, their previous order automatically pops up on the kiosk screen. Diners can place the same order from their previous visit or edit the order.

HT: How does Urban Wok use texting to communicate with guests?

TOTH: The only text we utilize is when our guests’ orders are ready. Once the order is processed, they input their phone number and then they receive a message when their order is ready. It’s really used to facilitate the movement of the line, which our guests seem to love because it allows them to grab their customized meal in a quick and efficient fashion. They also love that their number is used only for order notifications. We don’t opt them in to other marketing communications and this has been a big help for us in terms of capturing loyal guests who actually do take the time to sign up for further communications from us. This technology allows us to give time back to the consumers and allows us to interact with the consumers in a genuine and sincere manner.   

HT: You recently began offering delivery. How does that work?

TOTH: Customers will order online at UrbanWokUSA.com. After we receive the order and it is ready for delivery, our staff personally delivers the food on foot to luxury apartments, condos, local business etc. within a five block radius. We are not interested in the suburbs as our target market, but rather the growing urban lifestyle neighborhoods. We chose the urban markets because downtown city living has increased 36 percent since 2014. 

HT: Which technology at Urban Wok excites you the most? 

TOTH: The kiosks and the analytics behind the technology excite Urban Wok the most. In the age of ever increasing costs, kiosks allow for a new model. The Urban Woks menu was designed around the technology to provide a great experience for consumers and ease of ordering is a huge competitive advantage for us. In addition, the TOAST technology is very intuitive and allows Urban Wok the flexibility to impact our future. There is room to grow and work with TOAST to impact our future and how technology impacts our business. Finally, it gives us a constant feedback loop from our customers which is invaluable. 

HT: What type of technologies do you hope to bring to Urban Wok in the near future?

TOTH: In the short term, we are looking at additional promotional interfaces for the consumer to help increase sales. In the long term, we will add the ability to text when your order is ready when an online order is placed and the consumer is coming into the store to pick up their food.