[Case Study] A Shift to Digital Restaurant Operations Drives Bonanno Concepts Forward
Bonanno Concepts prides itself on creating happy people through its portfolio of nine chef-driven restaurants led by Chef Frank Bonanno. With more than $20 million in annual sales, the Denver-based restaurant group features a wide variety of dining experiences, from an upscale, Zagat rated French restaurant to a Nashville-inspired fast casual chicken spot. The group even boasts a food hall, the Denver Milk Market, featuring 16 different food stalls—all of which are owned and operated by the Bonanno Concepts family.
Offering nine completely different culinary concepts is great for consumers, but can lead to a lot of operational headaches. That’s been a driving force for why Bonanno Concepts has been transitioning to digital solutions to streamline its financial operations since 2016. However, it took some time to perfect their tech stack.
A Digital Restaurant Revolution & Evolution
Michael Nevarez has seen this evolution firsthand. A chef for the Bonanno Concepts group from 2011 to 2015, he rejoined the company as its Finance Manager in 2017, offering a unique point of view into how the individual restaurants work with the corporate office for consistent and accurate reporting.
In his role, Nevarez serves as a liaison between the finance and ops teams to coordinate financial management activities such as reconciliation of sales and bank accounts, making sure bills are paid on time, and creating budgets for restaurant-specific projects or events. Nevarez relies on Restaurant365 for accounting and some reporting, such as balance sheet and profit-and-loss reports.
Because Restaurant365 is the financial system of record for Bonanno Concepts, it’s extremely important for the data to be accurate. Prior to 2016, all data was manually entered into QuickBooks, costing time and valuable resources while opening the door to human error.
The company realized this was a point of friction and eventually implemented Bill.com before moving on to Plate IQ. Unfortunately, Plate IQ didn’t work as expected, so Bonanno Concepts tried xtraCHEF. And, as it turns out, xtraCHEF was the digital restaurant solution that Bonanno was seeking.
User-Friendly, Customer-Friendly, & Budget-Friendly
At Bonanno Concepts, it’s important that chefs and managers have a full, accurate picture of expenses and profits across the business. “We want our managers and chefs to be in the office doing that clerical work, but we also think it should be an 80/20 split of being on the floor or in the kitchen rather than being in front of a computer,” says Nevarez.
While he uses Restaurant365 every day, Nevarez says that the software can be confusing and difficult to use for chefs and managers may work with it once or twice a week. That’s where xtraCHEF comes in.
Utilizing xtraCHEF’s integration with Restaurant365, the chefs and managers at the restaurant level are able to simply take pictures of the invoices. xtraCHEF’s AP Management solution extracts the line-item data, codes it, and delivers it to Restaurant365 in a timely manner. The chefs and managers love that this can be done on their mobile devices, offering even more ease of use and the ability to capture invoices anytime, anywhere.
But, it’s not just xtraCHEF’s software that’s user-friendly. It’s their Customer Success and Support teams that really set them apart from other providers.
“xtraCHEF and Plate IQ have several similar features,” Nevarez concedes. But when it comes to customer service and support, xtraCHEF exceeds expectations and outperforms the competition by far. “If any kind of question or issue comes up, xtraCHEF is typically able to address it in less than a day.” This allows Nevarez to spend less time thinking about yesterday’s issues and more time moving the business forward.
By switching to xtraCHEF, Nevarez was also able to save $50-$60 per week in subscription charges. In an industry where profits are usually razor-thin, this was a major factor in Bonanno’s decision to implement xtraCHEF. As Nevarez says, “Margin is margin.”
In addition to subscription savings, the restaurant group is also saving money by reducing the amount of time spent on clerical work. Nevarez estimates that, before moving to their current digital restaurant solution, chefs and managers were spending 4-10 hours per week manually managing the accounts payable and restaurant food cost management process. With xtraCHEF, that work is done in less than an hour per week. This translates to about $600 in weekly savings from hourly wages.
Optimizing Operations for the Future
In 2020, Nevarez and Bonanno Concepts are prioritizing xtraCHEF’s Inventory Management. Four of the nine concepts are currently in the process of building their inventory sheets.
“We are a chef-driven restaurant group. We allow our chefs to change their menu whenever they feel like it,” says Nevarez. “New items might be coming in every single week.”
This is great for chefs, but poses a major challenge for Nevarez; he has to manually create a new item in Restaurant365 every time any new inventory enters even one of the Bonanno restaurants. It can take several hours per week just to create new items.
“I was creating 50-100 items per week to keep menus updated,” Nevarez says. He looks forward to solving that inefficiency with xtraCHEF. “Time is money, as they say.”
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