Customer Stories

Tennessee Coffee Shop Lasaters Coffee & Tea

By Jackie Prange

In front of the café, someone holds up a sticker saying

Wake up and smell the perfectly brewed coffee.

Zack Gates has quite the story.

He opened up his franchise of Lasaters Coffee & Tea three years ago. But before then, he was in the US infantry. His last deployment ended with cardiac failure, three heart surgeries, a pacemaker, and, as a result, medical retirement. He would have been relegated to a desk job, not something Zack was truly interested in.

As fate would have it, he met Mat Lasater, the founder of the Tennessee-based chain and they started talking shop – coffee shop, if you will. Zack appreciated Lasater’s dedication and appreciation for quality coffee. He
likened the way Lasaters Coffee & Tea chooses their beans to choosing the perfect piece of fruit. “If you walk up to an apple tree, you’re going to pick the reddest, prettiest, apple. You’re not going to pick one with a worm on it or a hole on it. Our coffee is the highest quality – high-grade premium beans.”

After learning more about the business, Zack decided, along with encouragement of his friends and mentors, that he would pursue a career in hospitality. “I figured if I could run a platoon, I should be able to run a coffee shop.”

And so it began. Keeping with Zack’s resilient attitude, he wasted no time pursuing his new venture. “In one day, I was approved by the bank and the corporate office to get the ball rolling.” From there, it was one hundred miles an hour.

“You know how hard everyone says it is to build a house? No one ever says,
‘Oh, it’s great!’ It’s a huge headache. They’re always thankful when it’s over. The process is hard.” And like building a house, when the walls are painted, the cozy chairs are in place, and there are people inside, relaxing and enjoying their lives it’s worth it. “Our coffee shop was built in ten weeks from the ground up. The building was constructed. We hired employees, we trained them.”

It was a good thing that Zack was more than equipped operationally, “On our grand opening day, it was insanely busy.”

Adding to the challenge of the demands of constructing a coffee shop from the ground up, training a whole new 18 member team, another challenge facing Zack was that his coffee shop would be the first sit-down and drive-thru Lasaters Coffee & Tea.

“Everyone says Lasaters is a real warm, cozy environment, and we’re trying to make the experience so that it’s not about people getting in real fast or leaving real fast, although, with our drive-thru, they have that option if they want to.”

Having worked at a kiosk version of Lasaters coffee before, Zack recognized that the demands of a sit down and drive-thru venue would far surpass the abilities of the POS he had used previously.

We had another POS vendor that was just not helpful. It wasn’t set up for
the rapid growth of our business. If we had issues, I would have to fix it.

Zack admits, “I’m not a computer guy, by any means. I’m hands on. Customer service and making drinks is one thing, but there are other vital operations.”

To suit both the sit-down-get-cozy and on-the-go imperatives, and the
implementation demands, Zack knew a versatile, easy to use POS would be
essential to his operations. He needed a system that could be rolled out within the time constraints of the fast approaching open date and that would be easy to train his new and existing staff on. As well, he needed a POS that would meet the demands of both a drive-thru and café style payment process, and of course, one that would continue to be simple to use in the long run.

Zack chose TouchBistro.

TouchBistro is very easy to use for a lot of people.
I mean, I’m not a computer guy and I can use it.

“I’ve had employees who’ve had very little experience with mobile technology and then I’ve had employees with tons of experience who’ve in turn made me better and more efficient. It’s all easy once you do it a few times.”

TouchBistro’s ease of use and simple implementation was an important part of starting up and training a whole new team. For Zack, that ease of use continues to be a core benefit, especially as his team and business continues to grow.

Even today, three years later, all is going well for Zack and Lasaters Coffee & Tea. Currently, his coffee shop is using two iPads, one for the drive thru area and one for the dine-in/café area. He emphasizes how he and his team continue to reap the benefits of an easy to use mobile POS. When asked what his staff thought about TouchBistro, Zack said simply, “I don’t hear anything other than it’s easy. And easy is exactly what I want out of a POS.”

His favorite feature? “I really like being able to change our menu items, when our product changes. It doesn’t throw a curveball to anyone. When we have to add a product, a new tea or different coffee, it’s really easy. We’ve had to do this during the middle of a workday and it takes hardly any time to do. I don’t have to add a whole new section or anything.”

The whole system is just so user friendly.

In the future, Zack hopes to open another Lasaters Coffee & Tea and use TouchBistro for his point of sale. Echoing the wholesome, family values which the Lasaters brand holds close to its heart, Zack too is looking forward with his family in mind, “My goal is to have more locations, and have my existing location take care of itself. This is an investment for my children and my children’s children.”

Photo of Jackie Prange
by Jackie Prange

Jackie was a Content Marketing Specialist and Social Media strategist at TouchBistro before moving into business development role. She covered the latest food, dining, and technology trends for the restaurant industry. A lover of all things coffee, Jackie’s hobbies include breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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