Tom Ward, Operations Director at BAO, is the next in a series of operator interviews on behalf of QSR Automations, which takes a deep dive into their business, looking at their incredible journey to success, brand values and the key role technology plays in consistently delivering operational excellence and an exceptional customer experience.
BAO was created by Erchen Chang, Wai Ting and Shing Tat Chung in 2013, from a 2m x 2m shack in a car park at Netil Market in East London. The brand opened its first permanent site in Soho in 2015. Known as a tourist hotspot, the restaurant has been recently awarded a Bib Gourmand for six consecutive years and in January was voted central London’s most-loved restaurant by readers of Time Out.
So what’s the story behind BAO? “All our restaurants are inspired by travels, journeys and experiences from the founders," Ward explains. "We value interpretations and stories of Asian culture told through quality produce and unique experiences. Our goal is to create restaurants that offer a different experience to each other, so each has a unique menu and a different story. We have a simple philosophy: Think. Food. Serve. Design.”
The brand now has six sites, a bakery in Bermondsey, together with Convni, a digital supermarket inspired by Asian convenience stores, selling a range of food, drinks and merchandise.
So why technology and especially back-of-house technology to assist with the BAO goals and values? “We wanted to gain a clearer view of our operation and greater understanding of how our kitchens were operating," Ward continues. "Importantly, we wanted to know the experience our guests were having, particularly in terms of how long they were waiting for their food. The reporting from ConnectSmart Kitchen has told us this. We now have far greater visibility of what is happening in the dining room and the kitchen.”
BAO has an extremely unique service style for what is primarily a QSR. The brand is not your usual starter, mains and dessert concept. However, this is not about dishes simply coming to the table once ready. Instead, the ConnectSmart Kitchen technology has been intelligently programmed to ensure dishes arrive at the table at the correct stage in the dining process and in the right order to further enhance the guest experience.
“The benefits of having QSR’s ConnectSmart Kitchen technology are tenfold," Ward concludes. "It’s a fact, they have robust hardware, the likes of which I haven’t seen anywhere else. When it comes to onboarding, they are extremely robust. They take the success of your business very seriously and are exceptionally detail focused. The reporting is excellent, allowing me to take a deep dive into each site to give me full visibility - I’m having a lot of fun with it! Most importantly, what it has done is remove human error.
“To give you an example, on most evenings we serve around 100-150 guests. Each guest orders around four to five dishes, so that’s 500-600 dishes going out of the restaurant every evening. It helps our chefs to focus on cooking quality plates of food every time. Most importantly, from just looking at a screen, I can see what orders they’re working on and progressing. Without the technology, I’d be blind.”
This article is one of a series of deep dives into operator's businesses created by QSR Automations. Click here to see the first video, which features Bone Daddies. To find out how QSR Automations ConnectSmart Kitchen technology can drive operational efficiencies across your back-of-house click here or call 020 3870 4571.