We’ve all seen a Netflix comedy special — the performer stands on a bare stage as laughing patrons sip beer and lean in to absorb every word. However, New York City has seen some changes in the performance venue landscape with Caveat.
Caveat supports the best of New York’s performance scene: comedians, storytellers, drag queens, and even the occasional astronomer. The venue welcomes anyone with a story to tell, saying: “when someone is passionate about what they’re talking about, it’s amazing to watch.”
With a stocked bar to the side of long tables, they avoid the typical drink minimums other comedy bars enforce. And although that’s admirable from the perspective of supporting the arts, it makes hitting their bottom line harder.
So, how exactly did Bbot help increase their 2021 check size by 30% compared to 2019? We sat down with Caveat Co-founder Ben Lillie to talk shop and learn more about how he’s been leading his performance venue and bar to success.
Bringing flexibility to performance venue ordering
Caveat’s unique approach to entertainment drew large crowds of all kinds, putting them squarely in the best-of-comedy circuit, with names ranging from Tig Notaro to New Yorker cartoonists.
But like so many businesses around the world, COVID-19 hit the venue hard. Facing limited capacity seating, Caveat brought in less revenue from decreased ticket and drink sales. Many competitors found themselves closing their doors for good, but Caveat managed to scrape by.
As they welcomed back their smaller audience, Lillie realized another factor in their reduced revenue: guests were hesitant to get up mid-show for drinks and interrupt the performers. Good etiquette was hurting Lillie’s bottom line.
“We needed to find a better solution,” Lillie told us. “The way Caveat is formatted is pretty specific - you have to walk across the floor to get to the bar, which means passing right by the stage. People just didn’t want to interrupt like that. That’s when we started looking into QR codes.”
Caveat found themselves looking for a better way. They needed a contactless solution to encourage guests to purchase drinks mid-show and deal head-on with limited staffing. Pre-show ordering was still high but overwhelming their bartenders.
That’s when Bbot stepped in.
With no additional increase in labor...
Caveat used Bbot’s in-venue ordering solution to create a hybrid ordering method for guests, turning their individual needs into opportunities.
Bbot’s contactless order-and-pay pipeline unblocked the mid-show barrier for guests who want another round. By using QR codes on tables, comedy lovers can now order directly from their phones, even in the middle of a show. These scannable codes lead to a customized menu, showcasing selections better than a paper menu in their dark theater or waiting in a line that wraps around the room.
By turning their bartenders into runners, they also solved the lag in mid-show service — now, their staff does more than wait for intermission. These simple changes have paid dividends, all without spending extra money on hard-to-find hires.
With the touch of a button, each guest can start a tab from their seat, checking out and re-ordering whenever they feel like it. Because of Bbot’s innovative tab technology, Caveat has seen an average increase of between $9.50 and $12 per check.
Bigger check size, better revenue
Caveat is back at its full 110-guest capacity, welcoming their show-goers with open arms. With Bbot, Lillie estimates that Caveat’s had a total 25% increase in their revenue with their new flexible ordering system.
“Bbot lets us serve customers at times when we wouldn't be able to otherwise. We wanted a tool like Bbot so people wouldn't have to get up from their tables, which is absolutely what's happening,” Lillie elaborates.
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