Chicago Dog & Co was built on a family vision. Restaurant owners Sandra and Monica Rivera are sisters, born in Chicago, Illinois, and raised in Altamonte Springs, Florida. Their love for Chicago street food began in childhood on family vacations to the Windy City.
“If you’re talking about Chicago food, there’s no way Chicago hot dogs aren’t in the conversation. They’re iconic to Chicago,” Sandra says. “For the full Chicago dog experience, you have seven toppings. It seems a lot, or seems unusual to put on one hot dog. But once you bite into it, it makes sense. The flavors all come together.”
Back in Florida, this unique dish was still on the Rivera family’s minds, giving them the idea to start a hot dog cart, which eventually morphed into a brick-and-mortar business.
“There was a void in Altamonte Springs for something like this,” says Sandra. “More people are getting behind the idea of supporting local family businesses, and it just felt like the right time to bring something like that here.”
Overcoming hardships together
When the Riveras decided to open Chicago Dog & Co, it was just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This presented several issues in terms of construction and permitting.
“We had no choice but to keep going,” Sandra says.
Even as pandemic restrictions relaxed, supply chain issues and rising inflation stirred up new problems for the restaurant industry as a whole.
“At any given time, there’s always something either on back order or unavailable,” Sandra says. “You take for granted the things that you use and realize that they’re not as easily accessible. And if they are, they’re a lot more expensive.”
Balancing unknown expenses while trying to build a business has been tricky, and the Riveras are always mindful of supply chain constraints and expenses.
“This business has really challenged us to be creative about how to offer our product. Sometimes we have to change course and package it a little bit differently because of the lack of available resources,” says Sandra. “But luckily, nobody’s complaining. Nobody’s had any issues with it. We’ve been very lucky that our community has embraced us, and they continue to support us.”
In retrospect, Sandra believes opening Chicago Dog & Co during the pandemic was good timing. When the restaurant was ready to welcome the public, people were eager to socialize again and try new things. And the best part? The Riveras built Chicago Dog & Co as a walk-up, which means customers don’t need to be in close quarters to order or eat their food.
Despite the challenges the Riveras have faced opening the restaurant – and the added layer of interpersonal complexity that comes with running a family business – Sandra is grateful for the memories they’ve made thus far.
“It’s brought us closer together as we’ve seen the fruits of our labor be successful,” she says.
Business confidence instilled by Chase
Part of the recipe for Chicago Dog & Co’s success has been strategic partnership decisions.
“When we opened the business it was a no-brainer that we were going to bank with JP Morgan Chase,” Sandra says. “I’ve always been a customer of theirs for many, many years, and I trusted them.”
The next step for Chicago Dog & Co was to select a point-of-sale (POS) system to take orders and payments. Sandra conducted extensive research on the numerous options available on the market.
“I came across TouchBistro and I did a little bit of research. And when I found out that they partnered with Chase, it gave me a big sense of relief and confidence knowing that if an institution like Chase trusted TouchBistro, I was in good hands,” she says. “The benefits of partnering with TouchBistro is that the platform is very easy to navigate. It’s very easy to use [and] very easy to train our staff on. And because they’re partners with JP Morgan Chase, I know I have people looking to help me build the business in the way that I need to.”
Time savings and support from trusted partners
Today, Chicago Dog & Co uses TouchBistro POS for all orders and transactions. It’s a one-stop solution that allows the restaurant’s cashiers to take in-venue or online orders, and process payments instantly – all in one place.
“TouchBistro POS touches every aspect of our business,” says Sandra. “It’s easy to make modifications to certain orders, [which is important] because, in this business, everything needs to be fast. Having the ability to modify things on the fly like that has helped in terms of getting customers in and out quickly.”
By leveraging TouchBistro Payments Powered by Chase, Chicago Dog & Co also enjoys the ease and convenience of using an integrated payment processing solution. This robust integration allows the restaurant to accept payments of all types, and minimize POS errors while streamlining operations. The restaurant can even continue processing payments when the internet goes down.
“Working with TouchBistro and Chase as a joint unit saves me money. But, more importantly, I have two points of contact for any assistance I need,” Sandra says.
Using TouchBistro during a time of changing pandemic restrictions has been especially helpful for Chicago Dog & Co, because many customers are still wary of social interaction.
“TouchBistro’s Online Ordering system has really helped us. To our surprise, we’ve had a tremendous influx of customers recently,” says Sandra. “People get a little nervous about standing in line, or they don’t wanna stand in a long line and wait, so now they have that option [to order] through the online ordering system. They can place their order in the comfort of their own home, on their time. They can even order it for a couple hours later so that it’s ready when they’re ready to pick it up. And then they don’t have to come wait in line or deal with the crowds.”
In addition to TouchBistro POS, Payments, and Online Ordering, Chicago Dog & Co also uses TouchBistro Loyalty and Gift Cards.
“Everything is condensed into one platform,” Sandra says.
A family dream fulfilled
With the help of TouchBistro and Chase, Chicago Dog & Co has been able to grow while providing a great customer experience. And at the end of the day, it’s Chicago Dog & Co’s customers who keep Sandra excited to come to work every day.
“I love the joy they bring,” she says. “The fact that we’re serving our community and making them happy makes this business worth it.”
The Riveras’ goal is to see Chicago Dog & Co grow as much as possible. Sandra and Monica would love to expand to other locations, and they’ve had lots of customers ask them to open up shop in their hometowns.
“We know there’s a desire to have something like this in local communities. Ultimately, we’d love to build an empire of Chicago Dog & Co,” Sandra says.