Today we’re not going to talk about how difficult COVID has been in the hospitality industry, and more specifically, the restaurant industry. Almost a year has passed, and business owners have internalized and, in many cases, adapted to broad changes sweeping the industry. We’ll share a bit about one of those creative ideas.
But first, we’d like to say that as a “tech” company serving restaurants, hotels, bars, and food halls, we recognize our position in enabling the true rockstars, you guys, to craft seamless experiences for guests. Bbot’s team is always here to help think of operational efficiencies and revenue-generating opportunities, but you and your staff are what matters to the guests.
This is one of the many reasons Bbot is thrilled to partner with Vegas Test Kitchen, Las Vegas's first-ever test kitchen. While it’s true some test kitchens are used by large companies for Research & Development, others —like Vegas Test Kitchen— are much more accessible to the public and built with community in mind.
Five days a week, at 1020 Fremont St., downtown “Sin City,” celebrated chefs will delight guests by testing new culinary concepts. Current concepts include various takes on American classics like pizza or pie and foods less well known in North America yet no less delicious, such as Baiza, a traditional Bulgarian street food.
Jolene Mannina, the founder of Vegas Test Kitchen, is President of Secret Burger. This online marketplace offers off-the-menu dishes for consumers to pre-purchase before they’re sold out. Jolene has been in the restaurant business since the 90s and has done it all, from working in front of the house to creating Back of House Brawl, a late-night food competition in Las Vegas— yes, you read that right.
Jolene also had a hand in Urban Seed, a supplier of locally grown, low-carbon-impact fruits and vegetables in the local market, and Relish, which prepares logistics and coordinates the technical aspects for events and festivals.
Jolene noticed the space, now Vegas Test Kitchen, had been vacant for three years. From her years of experience with chefs, she realized that a test kitchen where chefs could experiment would bring a lot of positivity to the area, especially when many chefs with great ideas found themselves out of work.
Designed like a food hall, Vegas Test Kitchen allows chefs to do what they love, network, and build a following to hit the ground running should they decide to spin one of their concepts into a full brick-and-mortar restaurant.
The food hall setting allows chefs to get real-time feedback on their creations from fellow chefs and guests. Additionally, these chefs can devote themselves to their culinary creations and do what they love without worrying about the upfront costs required to run a full-scale restaurant.
Vegas Test Kitchen offers dine-in and curbside delivery, — as well as outpost pick-up for after-hours. Jolene wanted to maximize the use of kitchen space and empower her fellow chefs during tough times.
So she did.
Jolene remembers being surprised at how easy it was for chefs and customers to adapt:
“I was expecting a lot of pushback, to be completely honest with you, but it’s been surprisingly easy. Even the 70-year-olds get it — our neighborhood picked it up quickly, and they’re happy, which makes us happy.”
Guests love the concept. The average customer spends between $30 and $35 per order and tends to get two or three items instead of just one. The second week of January has been the busiest so far, and there’s more in store.
Vegas Test Kitchen came across Bbot through Branded Strategic Hospitality, a hospitality investment & advisory company that helps connect businesses in the hospitality industry with technology that helps to drive sales, reduce costs, and address compliance issues.
The reason for adoption was similar to the choice of opening a test kitchen: focus on the culinary experience and let technology handle the rest. With an easy-to-use interface, Bbot allows guests to easily order food from multiple concepts in one checkout without confusion. Chefs can focus on making great food instead of wearing multiple hats. Owners can easily track sales and revenue and use powerful analytics to understand their customers better.
While new concepts will rotate in and out of Vegas Test Kitchen, it seems like guests have quite the sweet tooth. The most popular items are the blueberry crumble sweets. I’m personally rooting for something more savory to take the top spot.
If you’re in the area, look out for Vegas Test Kitchen and its delicious offerings.