Sometimes disaster can bring out the best in people. That’s what happened when destructive and deadly Hurricane Sandy hit the metropolitan New York area in 2012. Classically trained chef Treva Chadwell and her husband, John, saw the devastation in their neighborhood — people lost their homes, were flooded out and even died – and decided to do something about it.
“It was a way for us to connect with the folks who had lost everything,” says John. “Our apartment wasn’t damaged at all. The city was entirely shut down, you couldn’t do anything. So we had to do something. Our neighbors in Port Washington got together and started baking.”
Treva, who grew up in Texas, knew the flavors and recipes of the kind of comfort food that brings instant feelings of home. A classically trained chef who is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, she went to work, using her talents to bake what makes everyone think of “home” – comfort food, like chicken, biscuits and Frito pie. John, a native Texan, helped, too, and by the time they were done, they had served over 750 biscuits out of their home.
The neighbors, so grateful for their kindness (and, oh by the way, the food tasted great, too), couldn’t stop talking about it.
On a hunch that they were on to something, Chef Treva and John applied to the food market, Smorgasburg, and in April 2013, BeeHive Oven began bringing biscuits made by Texans to New York City. The chef’s food was an overwhelming success, and BeeHive Oven became known as not just a place for delicious food but also where the owners would chat a while.
In May 2014 BeeHive Oven opened its first restaurant, BeeHive Oven Biscuit Cafe, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, serving comfort food that reminds people of “home,” according to John. The restaurant, which seats 30, can squeeze in a little more on its popular weekend brunches.
Chef Treva learned how to make delicious meals with her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, as well as with her father in his restaurant and catering business. An eighth-generation Texan/Louisiana, the chef says it took the hurricane to help her figure out what she was supposed to be doing with her life.
With John providing the technical prowess the couple wanted, they were able to source iPad based technology that could maximize their team’s productivity.
Formerly with Blackboard, a technical education company, and Apple, he’d been in tech sales his whole career. He knew the business needed only the best technology, so, after some study, he connected with TouchBistro.
“We looked at a lot of different companies,” he says, “but we wanted not to bring in a legacy system, something that would carry 5, 7, 10, years of baggage with it. We needed something that gave us a lot of flexibility that didn’t require a large infrastructure investment. Given that we had never been in the restaurant business, our goal was to find a solution that would make intuitive sense. We found that resource with TouchBistro.”
John notes that he wanted an iPad wireless solution, with a pay-at-table option. “I didn’t want credit cards going back behind the counter. Coming from a sales environment, where I was traveling a lot, I didn’t like the credit card being out of the hands of the consumer. This is a much more secure way.”
He points out that this option is already very popular in Europe, and is also a little ahead of itself, given the October 1st requirement that New York City restaurants adopt the new EMV payment process, which allows consumers to use their credit cards right at the table, without ever having to hand it over to a server.
“About 15-20% of our customer-base is foreign-born. They’re comfortable with that,” he explains. “It was just a matter of training our staff. One of the big bangs of closing out for the day is going through your slips, marking down the tips. That’s money out of my pocket, so I wanted an automated process that would get it right.”
TouchBistro created a streamlined process that features, easy to read and manage information. It eliminates the confusion that comes when servers are just scratching out the information. And you find yourself wondering is that a 3 or a 5?
“TouchBistro came to us and walked us through the system patiently, explaining here’s what it does. Coming from a tech background, it was easy for me to pick up on it,” says John. “They knew what I wanted, but sometimes what you want is not what you’re looking for. There were some features I didn’t even think about, like adding the tip on the credit card, how to streamline that process and be accountable.”
It was something he didn’t think about but it now saves him 20 hours a week, four hours each per five servers. And it saves time for the servers, too. “I can pay them in a different way, be more relaxed, happy to pay them while they’re there but they don’t need to push paper for me,” he adds.
John was thrilled to find that the TouchBistro solution offered so much more than the ability to process orders. “We are able to analyze data including our year to year comparisons so that we can put the info to work for us,” he concluded.