Chowly Chat Ft. The Distillery Restaurants
At Chowly, we pride ourselves on providing a superior solution for restaurants, big and small alike, that reduces their time and labor when working with third-party online ordering systems. To demonstrate how we put our mission in action, we’re launching a new blog series called Chowly Chat, where we’ll share our customers’ success stories and show “how it all comes together” with Chowly.
For our first Chowly Chat installment, Stacey Arenson, our Director of Marketing, spoke with Randy Slifer, VP of Operations of The Distillery Restaurants, located in upstate New York. Since the opening of its first restaurant in 1980, this local chain has provided a place for friends to meet over great food and cold beer. Today, there are six locations in and around Rochester and Syracuse.
Hear from Randy about The Distillery Restaurants brand and how Chowly has helped their locations more effectively manage their online ordering operations.
Stacey: For those who aren’t familiar with The Distillery Restaurants, tell us about the restaurants. How do you embody your slogan, “Your Neighborhood Gathering Place”?
Randy: The Distillery is an award-winning, high-energy bar and restaurant that offers fantastic ambiance and hospitality for any drinking and dining occasion, whether it’s business, pleasure, or a celebration. We opened the original location on Mt. Hope Avenue in Rochester, New York, in 1980 and quickly became a favorite spot for locals who met over good food and cold beer to discuss the various events of the day, catch up with friends, make new acquaintances, and celebrate life!
Stacey: What are your most popular menu items?
Randy: We offer great American fare and have the best Buffalo wings in all of New York. We pride ourselves on creating great sauce recipes, and we’re always looking for new ideas. We have a scratch kitchen where many of our menu items are prepared by our chefs, including house-made soups, sauces, fresh chicken that we batter in-house, and fresh (never frozen) sirloin and chuck burgers.
Stacey: How much of your business is from delivery/third-party online ordering systems?
Randy: Our take-out business has grown exponentially with the use of third-party online ordering systems, and continues to grow. Our partnerships in this area of our business is something we take very seriously.
Stacey: When did you start using Chowly? Can you explain how you managed third-party online ordering systems before working with them?
Randy: We launched with Chowly in October 2018, and it was one of the smartest decisions we ever made. We had been using delivery platforms for two years and the process was a headache. Before Chowly, we launched on several third-party delivery platforms at the same time and were juggling too many tablets and systems. Now, with Chowly, we have direct integration. The process has been much smoother, and we’re no longer having problems with delivery orders.
Stacey: What was your onboarding experience like, and how has Chowly helped resolve issues in your operational process?
Randy: We have all six locations using Chowly, and I was surprised at how easy the onboarding process was. All we had to do was provide basic information and Chowly handled the rest. They provided complete integration with our third-party delivery platforms and POS system. After the integration, they followed up to make sure everything was working properly. Overall, it was a great experience. We’ve found that the longer we’ve worked with Chowly, the fewer issues we’ve seen in each restaurant as a whole, and we have seen an increase in operational organization. The support has been wonderful. The direct integration Chowly provides has greatly alleviated our staff’s workload. The process is seamless now that the orders go directly to the kitchens.
Stacey: Can you describe a challenge where Chowly stepped in and made a difference?
Randy: At one point, we had issues with customers adding modifiers to their orders, such as substituting fries for a salad. We weren’t sure if it was a glitch in our POS system, so we contacted all supporting vendors (the third-party delivery company, the POS company, and Chowly). The third-party delivery company and POS company ultimately weren’t able to correct the problem. However, Chowly broke down the issue and was able to point us in the right direction to resolve the glitch. Everyone at Chowly has been extremely helpful in all aspects.
Stacey: Final Takeaway – What are the top three ways Chowly has been useful for your restaurants?
Randy: 1- Chowly has removed the burden of manually entering every order into the KDS screen.
2- The system provides functionality that allows us to streamline the process of preparing orders for delivery. We were able to route Chowly to a second expo screen so orders can be printed and placed directly into delivery bags for drivers.
3- Chowly reduces the overall time it takes to get orders into the kitchen and prepare them. In turn, we can get hot food to our customers more quickly.
We’d absolutely recommend Chowly to other restaurants. They’ve proven that they understand our pain points and all the nuances that make delivery an operational challenge.