Spotlight on Crisp Kitchen

Fresh ingredients in delicious combinations. Easy touchscreen ordering, friendly staff, and fast service.

In other words, Philadelphia-raised Crisp Kitchen has gained a reputation. The Crisp team is committed to sourcing fresh, wholesome ingredients, preparing them in-house, and getting them into guests’ hands quickly. With locations near Temple University, in downtown Philadelphia, and one on the way in Marlton, NJ, people look forward to coming again and again for Crisp’s stir-fry, salads, and frozen yogurt.

We had the chance to sit down with Joe Betzala, Crisp Chef and Director of Operations, to ask him a few questions. He gave us insight into the keys to their success, including how they’ve woven NEXTEP self-order into their brand and operations…

NEXTEP:

Tell me the Crisp Kitchen story. What’s the brand about, and how did you get started?

JOE:

A few years back, Rick Petrone and Anthony Rufo set out to start a concept that’s committed to healthy, fresh ingredients with operations simple enough so that we can scale like Panera or Chipotle. Timing was perfect because I had just sold my catering company before meeting Tony and Rick, and here we are 2-3 years later.

We test, taste, touch everything to make sure that every ingredient is being cooked and seasoned properly. Crisp is all about everything being fresh, healthy, and made in-house. We don’t use pre-brought dressings or sauces because when you get into that world, everything is always loaded with preservatives and chemicals. Our whole philosophy is as long as we make the best food, as fresh as we can possibly make it, this company will be a success.

In order to make sure Crisp Kitchen could grow, we also paid special attention to operations. We needed to create a model that would simplify logistics and be repeatable, location after location. So, we decided at the very beginning that NEXTEP self-order kiosks were what we wanted to use.

 

NEXTEP:

Why was self-order so important to you?

JOE: 

Self-order gives the customer control over what they like and when they would like it. 

And from the back office point of view, it runs the numbers. Everything is automatically calculated in real time. NEXTEP's back-office inventory system instantaneously gives us the numbers that we need in order to find out what works and what doesn’t. The numbers tell the story of what’s working and what we need to change. I think that is a huge, huge assistance for us, as opposed to the old fashion systems of handwritten checks and relying on people to add and subtract. Using the old system, you would have to go through the receipts, look at your sales and expenses, then physically hand count your inventory. I think the NEXTEP system, at the end of the day, takes human error out of it and gives you real-time numbers so you can easily know what’s actually going on in your business. 

There’s so much competition in the restaurant industry. You survive on pennies and nickels, and if you’re not paying attention to that, your chances of surviving are minimal in my opinion. Your system not only helps track those numbers, but it helps increase check averages. For every customer that comes through the system, the kiosks asks ‘would you like a beverage?’, ‘would you like a fresh roll?’ - It dramatically helps that upsell. 

NEXTEP: 

How would you describe the relationship between the Crisp staff and guests?

JOE: 

We are an open kitchen, so we are obviously prepping and assembling all the food right in front of the customer. We recognize faces every day and notice who our regulars are. It’s kind of the best of both worlds - you've got the NEXTEP self-order platform to run the numbers and keep inventory controlled on the back end, and having the team out front facing the customers, communicating with them, keeps that personal, human element alive. 

For example, I’ll float the dining room, and you can tell if someone coming in is new. They come in looking at the kiosk so, I’ll go up and give them a little demonstration. If they have questions about a sauce or dressing, I always give them a little sample to taste it. Again, that’s where the human element comes in to play. The people obviously love and appreciate it. It’s been a success for us so far. 

NEXTEP: 

How have you seen your guests respond to the kiosks?

JOE: 

Millennials are the computer age people. Like a duck in water, they go right to it. People in my generation are used to iPhones, so, we pick it up quickly. As for the older generation, some people walk right up to it like they have been doing it their whole life and others are hestitant, but again, that’s where a manager or myself will step in and walk them through it.

NEXTEP: 

What is it like to manage your NEXTEP solution?

JOE: 

Managing it isn’t difficult. It’s easy for me to go in and change a price or change a beverage. We have 8 beverages so if I want to change one out, I can take the orange juice, for example, out and put the apple juice picture in. That’s easy. 

NEXTEP:

How has it been partnering with NEXTEP? How have you found that relationship?

JOE:

It’s been great! Your tech support has been phenomenal. They are always very friendly, professional, and extremely patient. I would definitely recommend NEXTEP. 

 

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