Meizhou Dongpo’s CIO Eric Yang, says the expansion to five locations in the U.S. in the Los Angeles area was driven by the restaurant’s mission to bring people together with the power of food to inspire and unite.
“We believe that there is currently a misrepresentation of Chinese food outside of China. Many subtle and delicate flavors present in authentic recipes are often missing in Chinese food produced abroad,” Eric says. “Meizhou Dongpo’s American brand is a high-end representation of authentic Chinese cuisine rooted in rich history and vibrant culture. We focus not only on culinary execution but also on the interior setting and ambiance to create a truly memorable dining experience.”
Riding the momentum of their enduring success in China, Meizhou Dongpo has big plans for expansion in the U.S. market. Eric is responsible for ensuring the proper infrastructure is in place to build a successful enterprise.
For Eric, the restaurant’s POS system is the lynchpin of business operations.
“We have an ambition for growth, but we are focused first and foremost on scalability and on ensuring we have proper control first,” he says. “A POS system is so much more than processing orders and payments. It can give you a true indication of the health of the business.”
Meizhou Dongpo opened in the U.S. with a traditional legacy system, but soon found the on-premise technology was incompatible with their agile growth strategy.
“Our legacy system was a representation of the past, not the future,” Eric says. “It could not be our solution for our 200-location dream.”
Eric found that Toast was the right fit for Meizhou Dongpo now, with five six locations, and later, when they’re all over the U.S.
“It’s important for us to prioritize different aspects of the business,” Eric says, “When we were getting started, we just needed to be able to place orders and process payments. As we grow, we want to add more features and complexities. Toast allows us to add modules as we go rather than committing to - and paying for - everything upfront.”
“Toast is an extensible platform,” he adds, “It’s powerful because it allows us to integrate with other systems and add on more features as we grow. We are very happy that Toast allows us the flexibility to scale up.”
Early on in Meizhou’s experience with Toast, Eric chose to introduce Toast handheld tablets to the waitstaff. Servers can take orders and process payments from a Toast handheld Android tablet, firing orders to the kitchen without leaving the table.
The handhelds were a hit with both staff and guests alike.
“Our servers love the handheld tablets,” Eric says. “They’re much more efficient than walking back and forth to the terminals. Not to mention, they help our servers make up losses of in gratuities due to some customers’ unfamiliarity with American tipping culture.”
Eric estimates that up to 60% of Meizhou Dongpo’s guests at stores in close proximity of Chinese neighborhoods are Chinese natives, and some of them are unaccustomed to tipping, which used to result in servers losing out on tips. Toast handheld tablets have helped bridge this gap.
“We’ve set the handhelds to display suggested tip percentages for guests when they swipe their cards,” Eric explains. “It’s not abrasive - we’ve found that guests find it really helpful. Servers today earn 25 to 30% more tips with handhelds at the table because foreign guests are gently educated about expectations.”
Additionally, Toast has optimized communication between front and back of the house staff. When servers fire an order from their handheld tablets, the kitchen receives a kitchen ticket in their native language.
“The old POS system couldn’t display Chinese characters on kitchen tickets - and our kitchen staff often do not speak English,” Eric remembers. “It caused a lot of errors and drastically decelerated throughput. Toast can print kitchen tickets in both English and Chinese characters and that’s been huge for our business.”
In addition to creating a scalable platform for growth and increasing waitstaff efficiency, Eric looks to his POS system for robust sales, labor, and inventory data.
“Data is one of the most importantstrategic assets of a company,” he says. “Cloud-based mobile technology has made our data more accessible and our business more data-driven.”
Toast’s ability to export reports and integrate data into other systems was the catalyst in Eric’s decision.
“All store data flows into Toast and we can easily run reports in the system or export the data for more sophisticated processing,” Eric says. “I talked to other POS vendors who didn’t have data export functionality and that was a deal breaker for me. Toast gives us flexibility to manipulate the data however we want.”
Meizhou Dongpo uses Toast’s integration with Restaurant365 to syncronize POS and accounting data.
“Much invaluable data comes from the POS,” he says. “Toast exposes that data, integrates with our accounting system, and allows us to make informed decisions about our business.”
Toast is the right fit for Meizhou Dongpo because it gives Eric and his team the flexibility to build an efficient, profitable, data-driven enterprise at their own pace as they pioneer the U.S. market.