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, in crafting wonderful, 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 matter 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, as well as 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, an online marketplace that 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.
Other ventures Jolene has been involved with include 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 large events and festivals.
Jolene noticed the space which is 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 so during a time where a lot of 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, without having to worry about the upfront costs and effort required to run a full-scale restaurant, chefs can truly devote themselves to their culinary creations and doing what they love and are best at.
Vegas Test Kitchen does offer dine-in as well as curbside pickup, and space may be used for pick-up only after hours as well. The concept made sense to Jolene. She wanted to maximize the use of kitchen space and empower her fellow chefs during tough times.
So she did.
Jolene remembers her surprise at how easy it was for chefs and their 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 seem to love the concept. The average customer spends between $30 and $35 and tends to get two or three items instead of just one. The second week of January has been the busiest so far and it looks like 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 any of the concepts in one single checkout without any confusion. Chefs can focus on making great food instead of having to wear multiple hats. Owners can easily track sales and revenue as well as use powerful analytics to better understand their customers.
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 sweets with blueberry crumble taking the lead for most purchases. 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.