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Talking Tech: Playing with Fire

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Credit Cadzow Pelosi Photography IMG_35 (2)

International teppenyaki brand Benihana celebrated its 55th birthday this year and recently worked with Tevalis to bring its EPoS system up to date.

The Japanese teppanyaki chain is celebrating its 55th birthday this year and has multiple openings in the pipeline after having been acquired in 2018 by leading Thai hospitality group Minor International.

Benihana’s most recent opening – number 23 on the list – was in Glasgow and represented the international chain’s first UK opening in 20 years.

As well as a showcase for an evolved design – a combination of contemporary minimalism and authentic materials – Glasgow was seen as an opportunity to really harness the power of technology to enhance the guest experience.

Having used Tevalis EPoS in its London restaurants, Benihana was keen to do the same in Glasgow, but this time the team wanted to utilise the full potential of Tevalis’s technology.

Richard Mackay, managing director of Benihana UK, explains: “Tevalis in our London restaurants has been operating for many years, but I would say under a fairly basic system.

“Tevalis has had multiple options for us to enhance our guest experience by under-standing what our guests purchase and how our guests react in our restaurants. Up until recently I don’t think we took full advantage of that, but going forward we certainly have.”

In Glasgow, Benihana wanted to gain a better understanding of its biggest selling items and was able to do this through Tevalis EPoS.

“We weren’t utilising menu mixers as strongly as we were in the past. So in Glasgow we used Tevalis to understand our menu mix, and understanding that allows us to also understand which flavour profiles our guests are enjoying most,” explains Mackay.

With further expansion on the cards, Benihana has been keen to introduce other third party technology solutions to improve every aspect of its restaurant operations, and these have integrated seamlessly with Tevalis EPoS.

“Through integration with other projects and software that we brought on board to manage our business, it means we now have a very robust system when it comes to managing our cost control.

Mix them with our Sage back office system, it integrates so well that it allows us to manage our sales portfolio, our procurement portfolio and our guest experience by choosing the right menu items for the right time of year,” explains Mackay.

“Tevalis has been instrumental in helping us to achieve those implementation processes.”

Another important integration that Tevalis facilitated was that of payments system Paymentsense.

“Our procurement team brought Paymentsense to the table as a more cost-effective alternative to our previous system. It expedites the guest experience at the end of their dining time with us, and all of that’s great news for us.

“When we brought them on board and Tevalis integrated with them it was done very seamlessly and incredibly quickly across all our restaurants here in the
UK, and we see that continuing,” says Mackay.

The user-friendliness of Tevalis EPoS was another big reason why Benihana wanted to stick with Tevalis at its Glasgow site and for future openings.

Both front-of-house and back office staff find the system intuitive and therefore quick and easy to use.

“There are two big pluses to working with Tevalis from a front-of-house standpoint: the first is, crucially, how easy it is to use. Tevalis is very easy – you can manipulate the buttons, the icons, to create menus that are very quick and easy to access. And the faster our team are at the EPoS, the faster they are getting back to the guest.

“The second crucial point is the aesthetic of the EPoS itself. When you build and design a restaurant, typically they [EPoS terminals] can be very unpleasant. In this case, Tevalis systems are very subtle and not so in-your-face with guests as a lot of other systems are,” says Mackay.

And when it comes to saving costs and maximising margins, Tevalis EPoS is proving to be an invaluable tool.

“From a head office point of view, Tevalis allows us to understand and really manage our expenses. Creating new menu items and menu engineering is very costly in both man hours and actual financial commitment; Tevalis allows us to understand side by side what our major selling items are so we don’t waste time having to re-engineer items already doing very well for us,” explains Mackay.

“We do notice regional variances too, so when we look at our menu mix it doesn’t always mean that one answer will fit
all of our problems. Rather, we adapt our menu to take into account those specifics in those areas. It means we’re a lot more dynamic with our offering.

“Not only that, Tevalis allows us to understand which of those items are in our GP levels, as
we can colour code them on the EPoS system. So our team are actually pushing the right items to the right guests in order to maximise our margins.”


Richard Mackay​,

How Tevalis enabled Benihana to improve its guest’s experience 

What aspect of Tevalis’s technology do you feel has brought the biggest benefits to Benihana?

Tevalis has a very user-friendly interface, from the servers on our floor staff level through to the management level.

The ease with which you can manipulate them menus and adjust food options on the EPoS system instantly kind of made it a no-brainer for us to continue using Tevalis. We want to spend less time with our IT network, not more, and Tevalis allows us to do that.

Having great technology in place requires great planning. How has the process/relationship with Tevalis been to date from an implementation point of view?

Tevalis came to our restaurant in Glasgow and installed our system very quickly. On top of that, what we really enjoyed was their experienced training team who came and spent hours with us in order to ensure our team were trained to the best of their ability. The training team was extremely knowledgeable.

I would say having Tevalis on board has been more of a partnership than a third party vendor. They really advised us well when we opened, and have continued to support us afterwards. There are always challenges when we deal with integration with other third party software and we’ll continue to go through those, and we will get to the end of them.

What’s next for Benihana and Minor International? How do you think Tevalis’s technology will aid your expansion plans in the future?

We have quite a large global footprint and will now be expanding it further with an additional 53 per cent increase in our portfolio. Minor International has quite a large footprint in the UK as it is, not only with Benihana but with other brands. Tevalis is in discussions with our other brands in order to integrate with them. This will allow Minor to view the UK as a whole asset, and we will be able to understand how all our restaurants are operating in the different brands. It will also give us some clarity when we meet for our quarterly discussions.

As we grow, Tevalis will be instrumental in helping to keep our reporting accurate in the back office, and service swift and concise to our guests. It will eliminate the amount of time we actually have to spend with technology, enabling us to spend more time with guests.

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