Talking About The Birds & The Beets: An Alternative Cafe Concept

Vancouver’s Gastown is home to some of the city’s coolest spots. Look no further than The Birds & The Beets, run by Matthew Senecal-Junkeer and Trevor Pruegger. The combination cafe and bakery prides itself on serving house-made bread, sandwiches, soups, grain bowls and pastries — as well as kombucha and craft soda.

Matt

Matthew dreamed about running a business since his university days. He attended culinary school to learn more about the restaurant industry before working at 33 Acres Brewing Company. Trevor had cooked at renowned restaurants in Vancouver such as C, Pear Tree and Thomas Haas. They crossed paths while working at Matchstick Coffee Roasters in Chinatown.

Inspired by Parisian cafes, Matthew invited his friend Nassi Soofi to base her flower shop, The Wildbunch, inside The Birds & The Beets. Nassi uses her own Square account for direct sales and invoicing, but the two businesses are able to share access to a Square Dashboard. By integrating point-of-sale systems, “Square lets us seamlessly manage the sales-processing part of that relationship,” says Matthew.

Matthew uses Square Dashboard to view details of the business, such as the time when customers come in, the ratio of new versus returning customers, and how these things change with the seasons. He also uses hourly trend comparisons across the month to work out staff scheduling to coincide with the busiest times.

Nassi

As for Nassi, she “can get real-time sales data on what’s selling. She can wake up in the morning and see that sales were high, and bring in some extra bouquets. Or if she’s at the flower market she can see, on her iPhone, that market bouquets are selling better than dry flowers or that she needs to invoice clients.”

The Birds & The Beets also hosts a pop-up cider bar three nights a week called Orchard & the Sea and Square enables Matthew to take an experimental approach to the shifting menu. “It’s effectively another business within a business,” says Matthew. “Square’s flexibility and ease of use means that we can quickly and seamlessly change new menu offerings, etc. If we get tomatoes in from the farmers’ market, we don’t need to sit down at a desktop with a clunky password-protected interface to add a button on the POS.”

Matthew finds that the intuitive, visual nature of Square enables him to adapt and make informed decisions about his business. “Every time I refresh the Square app, I’m refreshing my understanding of my business — understanding what the days after a long weekend will be — like, that rainy days mean a later coffee rush than usual, and that October was our weakest month. Being able to see live trends and seasonal changes is a truly invaluable tool for a small business,” he says.

Visit The Birds & The Beets at 55 Powell Street, Vancouver, or learn more online.

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