Toast Customer Story

Ethan Stowell Restaurants Gets More than a POS Upgrade with Toast Online Ordering and e-Gift Cards

Ethan Stowell Restaurants (ESR) is an award winning Seattle-based network of 13 different restaurant brands straddling a broad spectrum from fine dining to casual wood-fired pizzas.


Toast Facilitates Seamless Implementation

Operations Director Michael Pagana originally moved the brand to Toast because their three pizzerias were held back by legacy systems, which weren’t versatile enough to accommodate their counter service, full service, to-go, online, and delivery-based business model.

After a successful pilot program, Toast was rolled out to all other locations in just two weeks. 

Michael says, “The Toast team facilitated a smooth transition. They were there for us when we needed them, but were also willing to step aside and let us do things our way. We got the right balance of support and autonomy with Toast.” 

In addition to facilitating a smooth transition internally, Toast enabled ESR to delight guests with upgraded technology like online ordering and digital gift cards. 

Real-Time Menu Updates with Toast Online Ordering

Online and mobile ordering is essential for a pizzeria brand like ESR’s Ballard Pizza Company. The Toast Online Ordering module enabled Michael and his team to drive online revenue through their website without the headache of managing multiple menus. 

“With Toast, everything is integrated,” Michael notes. “So when you’re setting up your menu in general, you can just select whether or not it’s available online. If we run out of something, the server just marks the item out of stock on the computer and it also syncs online. We have a couple of pizzas that just don’t travel very well, and so you just select that they won’t be available online, and it won’t be seen. It’s just seamless.”

Ballard Pizza Company was finally able to meet increasing demand for online ordering and offer a lovely guest experience: “We started to receive compliments about it immediately, which is something we never got about our previous system,” Michael says.

Ethan Stowell Restaurants Sells $10,000 in Digital Gift Cards in One Day

Just as online ordering usage soared for Ballard Pizza Company, guests were hungry for more digital options in ESR’s fine dining locations as well. Toast offers digital gift cards that guests can receive immediately or at a future date. 

“The biggest game-changer for us, which we didn’t even know was going to be so huge, was the digital gift cards,” Michael says. “You can either have the gift card sent by email or by text message.”

This real-time gift card functionality delighted ESR’s guests - especially around the holidays. 

One day in early December, Michael got a call from an employee in a panic: “I got a call that our gift card sales were down. That’s because they were looking at only physical gift card sales. We had actually sold more in online gift cards than we had all gift cards in the entirety of last year.”

“We sold tens of thousands of dollars in digital gift cards on Christmas Eve alone,” Michael remarks. “We had no idea how powerful digital gift cards were going to be.” 

Toast Continually Innovates for Restaurant Success

Michael is excited for the group’s future with Toast, especially as more systems are integrating into Toast’s ecosystem. “Being able to work with up-and-coming companies that are really pushing the technology to help us to run our business and do our jobs more efficiently is super powerful,” he says. 

Where the legacy point of sale systems failed, Toast excels for Michael and the ESR team. Toast is built exclusively for hospitality and releases software updates every few weeks to better serve the restaurant community. 

“With the legacy systems, it was like, ‘This is what you get, this is what you pay for, and that’s it,’” Michael says. “With Toast, they’re really interested in what we have to say as a business and with what our needs are. Having a company that’s focused on development like Toast and focused on making changes to make my job as an operator easier is something that’s super important.”

Michael offers restaurant owners considering Toast some words of wisdom: “My biggest advice I have for restaurant companies that are transitioning is to continue to be open and honest about what your needs are with Toast because they’re going to be responsive to it. They want to solve the problems that we are facing.”

“We sold tens of thousands of dollars in digital gift cards on Christmas Eve alone,” Michael remarks. “We had no idea how powerful digital gift cards were going to be.”

Michael Pagana

Operations Director

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