Learn how TouchBistro POS for iPad helps these business owners manage their menu, schedule their staff and boost average check size by 20%.
From a single food truck to five busy locations, Eva’s Original Chimneys proves that passion – plus the right technology – is what drives a quick serve restaurant to success.
Before finding any level of success, before scouting the perfect location, before needing technology like a TouchBistro POS for iPad, every restaurateur’s journey starts with their “aha” moment.
For Kristin and Justin Butler, that moment came on their honeymoon. They had sold everything they owned, stepped away from their careers, and set out to travel the world together for one year.
Nearing the end of their travels, the couple was visiting family in Hungary, where Justin’s grandmother Eva was born and raised. Cousins took them to a nearby market in Budapest and pointed to Kürtoskalács (chimney cakes) – a sweet pastry rolled on a wooden cylinder and baked on an open rotisserie grill – insisting they try the traditional Hungarian treat.
Kristin and Justin watched the finished cakes come off the wooden spindle, then placed standing up as steam rose out the top, just like a smoking chimney. With the smell of sugar caramelizing on the outside, they took their first bites. Crispy on the outside. Soft and fluffy on the inside. They were hooked.
The couple still had five weeks of travel left, but the idea of taking this delicious treat back to Canada had already taken root. They spent the remaining weeks of their trip in internet cafes across Europe, researching how to make chimney cakes and where to get equipment.
Thinking summer festivals would be the best place to start their business, Kristin and Justin started Eva’s Original Chimneys with a single food truck. But it wasn’t happily ever after just yet.
“We spent the first year of our business perfecting the recipe,” says Kristin. “The actual dough is temperature- and moisture-sensitive, and in a food truck those things are different every day. Getting the dough right was probably the first big challenge.”
The second challenge came in year two, when they decided to change the shape of the chimney cakes from a cylinder to a cone, adding options for ice cream and various toppings. But that required an ice cream machine inside a truck that didn’t have the power to support it.
“We called every technician possible,” Kristin says. “No one could get the power right without overloading or not being enough.”
After the ice cream machine broke down a few times, they tried renting a separate, local ice cream truck, parking it behind their own truck. Customers would order at Eva’s, then take their ticket to the second truck to pick up the fully assembled ice cream cone. But three hours into service, the ice cream truck broke down. The long line of customers was disappointed, to say the least.
“I’ve started to realize that my actual job is just to solve problems,” says Kristin. “If I don’t expect problems to come up, it can be really overwhelming. But if I just know that my job is to handle the problems that come up and help my team solve them, then it’s not as stressful.”
Kristin and Justin eventually found an ice cream system that worked for the food truck, but the next challenge came with their point of sale (POS).
They had started their business with a POS with very basic functionality. Now that they had a more complex, customizable menu and growing demand from customers, Eva’s needed a POS upgrade.
“I knew I needed something that would allow me to do more,” says Kristin. “I wanted something that had integration with staffing, could do our item modification, and was also visually appealing.”
Kristin found TouchBistro and implemented the system in their food truck, later in their pop-up locations, and then finally in their permanent brick and mortar shops. She uses the reporting functions and 7shifts staffing integration to make decisions about labor. “The TouchBistro heat map can show us how busy we are, hour by hour, so we can figure out how many staff we need,” says Kristin.
She also depends on TouchBistro’s menu modifications, which make it easier for cashiers to ring in a customized order. Customers can build a new chimney creation, choosing their own cone, spread, layer, and toppings. Or they can make substitutions and additions to creations already on the menu.
“It’s important to give customers what they want and give them an experience that’s unique to them,” says Kristin. “I want you to be able to come into Eva’s and order your ice cream any way you want, with no limit. And we can do that really easily with our POS.”
TouchBistro’s menu modifiers don’t just improve the speed of service. The system also provides a sales boost, with easy upsells that customers love. “We’ve seen a 20% increase in the average check size, thanks to TouchBistro.”
The last item on Kristin’s wish list was to have a visually appealing POS, which was important for quick staff training.
“When you have staff staring at a POS for eight or ten hours, it’s got to look user friendly,” she says. “For us, training our staff to be on cash takes literally five minutes with TouchBistro. It’s very self-explanatory. Then we can spend more time focused on customer service and menu knowledge.”
In just three years, Eva’s has grown to include five locations and two food trucks, all of which use TouchBistro. Kristin says one of the things she enjoys most is that she’s been able to expand the system as her business needs increased.
“When I first came to TouchBistro, I was only looking for one iPad in a food truck that could take orders and process payments, and that’s really it,” she says. “When we got into store fronts, I wanted an iPad that could take orders and send an order to my baker at the other side of the store, so they could see what they need to make. Then I needed an iPad at the ice cream station so they can see what orders were coming in. TouchBistro has the Kitchen Display System (KDS), so we use those in our stores and that has been hugely helpful.”
Now the stores each have two cashiers on iPad (9.7-inch 5th Gen 32GB with wi-fi), plus two more: a baker KDS and an ice cream KDS.
“We had long line ups at our Bloor Street store. I realized some customers were taking their time figuring out what they want. Meanwhile the customer behind them knew exactly what they wanted, but we couldn’t take their order because we only had one cash,” says Kristin, remembering how she decided two iPad devices were needed up front. “I called TouchBistro, and they were able to have two cashiers running at the same time by using the Pro Server.”
In addition to the stores, each food truck has one cashier iPad and one KDS iPad.
As Eva’s continues to grow and fine tune their operations, they’re trusting that TouchBistro will continue to grow with them. Already, TouchBistro’s extensive reporting and analytics are helping them make more informed decisions about their business.
“We track how much of each item we’re selling every day so we can do projections on what we need to bake for the following week,” says Kristin.
She also uses the sales reports to see what’s selling the most and what’s selling the least, basing any menu changes on these numbers. A new promotional cone that consistently makes the dashboards’ top 10 bestsellers will get added to the regular menu. Then an item in the bottom 5% gets taken off.
“With TouchBistro’s cloud reporting, I can very easily analyze my business, and see what decisions I need to make to increase our sales,”
In just a short few years, what started as one couple’s passion for a traditional food experience – with a twist – has grown to become a shared passion between all the staff and customers that step up to the counter.
As for the future, Kristin says they’ve got their sights set on first optimizing existing operations and then expanding across Canada and the U.S., as well as internationally. They’ve also recently acquired former rival Chimney Stax Baking Co., which will be converted to Eva’s brand and recipes. And TouchBistro POS for iPad will be there to help with each of these new steps.
“I’ve researched many POS systems and I haven’t found anything that’s better,” “It’s the right choice.”says Kristin.
From food truck to storefront to international locations, it’s tough to know if you’re ready for that next step.
“Both Justin and I take action before we’re ready and then learn as we go. If you wait until you’re ready, it’ll just never happen,” says Kristin, offering some words of advice for other food truck owners looking to successfully grow their passion. “Don’t let your fears or worries get in the way. Ask questions. Ask for help. It’s not me alone that’s made all of this happen. It’s a whole team of people.”
From the team to the technology to the tasty treat, it’s clear that Eva’s Original Chimneys has the recipe for success.