Feature Photo by Wichita Eagle
You’d be surprised what can happen in 24 hours. For Fetch Bistro, a dog-friendly restaurant in Wichita, Kansas, 24 hours gave them a new look, a new menu, a new restaurant POS… and a new business, really.
So how is Fetch Bistro doing now, after appearing on Gordon Ramsay’s new show, 24 Hours to Hell and Back?
First: imagine you have 24 hours to change your whole restaurant. Not just come up with a new dish or revamp your seating chart – we’re talking top to bottom changes, from your entire menu to the way you track success. Seem a little overwhelming?
Well, now imagine the same scenario, but you have industry giant Gordon Ramsay in your corner. Better, right?
Fetch Bistro’s Pamela and Greg Buss were confronted with this reality, when Gordon Ramsay paid them a visit to turn around the future of their business. Fetch Bistro struggled at the beginning to clearly communicate their concept, leaving diners unsure what the restaurant was – which gave the business a slow start.
Now, after their small screen debut on 24 Hours to Hell and Back, Greg and Pamela’s business has definitely grown – but they still have some work to do before they’re completely confident in Fetch Bistro’s future.
Having formerly owned a successful breakfast joint in west Kansas called Egg Crate Cafe, the Busses brought their industry experience to their next concept in 2016. They wanted to bring more of a theme to their new business, and found inspiration in an unlikely place – their two poodles. From their love of the industry and their four-legged family members came Fetch Bistro.
Greg describes their concept as, “a place where you can bring the full family – including pets! – in a relaxing atmosphere with great food and drink.” They also believe that the market for these types of restaurants will grow. As Greg explains, “over 36% of Americans own a dog now and it’s a rapidly growing segment of the economy – the pet industry is growing every year – so to be a part of that in addition to a restaurant will pay off in the long run.”
So what did this vision look like in-house? While diners enjoy all-day breakfast classics or a “hot diggity dog” later in the evening, canine diners have their pick of entrees as well! Pup entrees include the Paws-itively Pumpkin peanut butter biscuits, a Bone Appetit bowl of steak, brown rice, green beans, and carrots, or Fur Balls made with hamburger and gravy.
But with their unique vision also came the complexity of permits and health standards. Pamela and Greg needed to put in extra leg work to get their unique concept up to snuff. They had to work closely with the city and health inspectors to get everything in line to allow dogs in the restaurant.
Greg credits the health inspector who worked with them – she was a big dog lover, which put her on their side from the get-go. “She was very helpful in walking us through it,” Greg says. “The limitations were not hard to overcome. All the dogs eat from separate bowls and separate dishes. We have additional hand washing sinks for servers to wash their hands every time they pet a dog.”
But the struggles tied to their concept didn’t stop when doors opened. They had a difficult time making diners see the appeal of the restaurant. A lot of guests were had questions and concerns: Can people eat here, too? Is this a restaurant only for dogs? Is it even clean to eat here?
At this point, Greg knew they were in trouble. “I knew that we were struggling and I knew we wouldn’t be in business a whole lot longer if we didn’t get some help somewhere.”
It was just over a year ago when Greg and Pamela were approached by FOX for Gordon Ramsay’s latest show, 24 Hours to Hell and Back, which Greg thought was some type of scam at the time. “My wife actually took the call and I thought it was a hoax,” Greg jokes.
They quickly learned it wasn’t a joke – and soon after, the show’s team arrived to start filming. Similar to Gordon Ramsay shows, he helps turn around struggling restaurants – but this time, he only has 24 hours to turn things around for the grand re-opening.
But what happens after the 24 hours with Gordon Ramsay?
“We really tried to adopt what he gave us and take it to heart,” Greg says of the changes Gordon Ramsay implemented. Since the show finished filming, Fetch Bistro has added decor they feel the design team would approve of and a daily special to the menu.
Greg also speaks highly of the people who came in with the show to help them. “Everybody involved in the show – from Alex Barrotti [CEO of TouchBistro] to the producers to Gordon Ramsay himself – they’re all just regular people who are working really hard. And they genuinely want to help.”
On the show, Fetch Bistro’s interior was completely redesigned with bright colors, a photo booth, and even dog-friendly astroturf in their backyard for their four-legged diners.
But it was the switch to TouchBistro iPad POS that made all the difference in how Fetch Bistro measures success since the show. “I can’t imagine not having TouchBistro now,” Greg says of the POS Gordon Ramsay chose for the show. “We were old school, using pen and paper. I always wanted to get a better system, but with all the modifiers on our menu, it was hard to find one that we could use.”
TouchBistro also helps Greg and Pamela see which of their new menu items are the most profitable. During the show, Gordon Ramsay cut their menu down to roughly 20 items from an original 55 options.
“Now we know where we’re profitable with the people we serve,” Greg says, adding how he loves seeing reports to track sales on a daily – even hourly! – basis. He even checks the reports on his phone to “see where we’re at each day and how much business we’ve had”.
Greg also loves how easily his staff can pick up on TouchBistro to make the guest experience a lot better. “Servers take orders tableside, spending more time on the floor in front of the customers and not in the kitchen,” Greg explains. Fetch Bistro has also mitigated the risk of tickets getting lost and orders getting forgotten, with orders being sent straight to the kitchen from TouchBistro POS. “It’s all better organized!” he says.
Fetch Bistro’s old punch clock system is a thing of the past, and managing labor is easier than ever for the couple. Greg can easily check labor costs against slow times, which has helped him save money.
Even paying the staff has gotten easier. “I can just click through reports I need for the payroll period and send it to my bookkeeper,” Greg says. “It saves a lot of hours on our end.”
Beyond the new design and technology, a huge relief for the couple was hearing that Gordon Ramsay believes in their concept, especially since dog-friendly restaurants aren’t common in North America. Greg shares that Gordon Ramsay told them that pet-friendly spaces are quite popular in Europe. “It’s nice to have that validation and know we’re not crazy!”
Greg admits he’s not sure what’s next for the dog-friendly diner. “It’s still spotty and unpredictable,” he shares. “We can still be busy on one Monday, then the next Monday we’re dead.”
But Fetch Bistro hasn’t given up yet, and the owners believe in their concept. “We feel like we’re a great space for people to hang out and bring their dogs, and we want to develop that more,” Greg says.
With their new look, powerful technology, and a motivated staff… don’t count these underdogs out.