How Square Helped a Chic Manchester Restaurant Get Faster and Fairer in its Operations

Located within Manchester’s Deansgate Square, Kitten serves contemporary Japanese food and experimental cocktails in stunning surroundings. We chatted with its associate creative director to find out how Square has allowed this restaurant to thrive.

Rosie Bell has spent twelve years working in the service industry in multiple roles. From waiting tables to bartending to acting as creative director for Manchester’s effortlessly cool Japanese restaurant, Kitten. Serving a wide range of Japanese-inspired classics with a contemporary spin, Kitten also boasts one of Manchester’s best cocktail menus. Now in its second year, this stylish Deansgate Square izakaya continues to go from strength to strength.

We talked to Rosie about some of the biggest challenges this fledgling restaurant has faced, and how Square has helped the restaurant flourish.

Square products used by Kitten

Key challenges and how Square offered solutions

[b]New business:[/b] Kitten opened its doors in the wake of a challenging period for the service industry. As a new business, it needed to quickly build a clientele through great food and quality service. Fortunately, the seamless nature of Square POS helped to subtly enhance the customer experience with quick and easy payment and effortless splitting of bills, while its robust reporting provided valuable insights into customer habits that allowed Kitten to build a great relationship with its repeat customers.

[b]Scaling in a difficult climate:[/b] A tricky economic climate can make scaling difficult for new restaurants. While Manchester is known for its enthusiastic adoption of unique, independent restaurants with bags of personality, the team at Kitten don’t take a single customer or sale for granted. By simplifying operations and empowering waiting staff to do what they do best without worrying about grappling with hardware, Kitten has garnered a growing base of loyal customers. Using Square’s rich reporting data, the team can better understand each customer’s preferences and create a more personalised experience.

[b]Sleek, contemporary design aesthetic:[/b] Walk into Kitten and you’ll see that every facet of the restaurant’s design has been constructed with painstaking attention to detail. Bamboo columns stretch high into the restaurant’s vaulted ceiling, elegant marble tiles line the tall alcoves and ambient lighting winks seductively from within paper lampshades. It’s a minimalist design that pays subtle homage to the cuisine’s cultural influences. The team at Kitten did not want to compromise this look with clunky or ugly POS hardware. “I don’t think we would have a system that didn’t match the aesthetic” Rosie confided, “So it definitely is sleek and it kind of disappears into the design concept, so the customers aren’t seeing a big till in their way on the bar. It fits in with the brand and the theme.”

Kitten’s implementation and training journey

Square is designed to meet the needs of fast-moving businesses that do not have the time or capital to invest in lengthy staff training sessions. Kitten’s staff found it quick and easy to get to grips with Square’s intuitive POS and were able to get up and running without disruptive training. Having worked with less intuitive systems, it was something that Rosie told us she appreciated.

“If you have an iPhone, it’s very similar. You want to delete a line item, you swipe. It’s very easy. I’ve worked with systems that have been so convoluted for no reason. Square makes it simple. Most people on their trial shift have Square down.”

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Square’s impact on business operations

Kitten’s operations and service are as simple, elegant and impressive as its decor and the presentation of its dishes. We take a look at how Square has benefitted Kitten from an operational perspective.

Improved customer experience

Kitten could never be accused of resting on its laurels. With menu developers creating new options for the menu and bar, as well as showcasing seasonal cuisine, the restaurant maintains a steady flow of exciting new ideas to supplement the tried and true. This is just another way in which Kitten rewards repeat customers and drives positive word of mouth. Square’s robust reporting allows the team to better understand customers’ preferences, and ensure that they always have access to familiar favourites while poor-selling items can be replaced with fare that’s better aligned with customer tastes.

What’s more, Square’s robust capabilities, seamless integrations with OpenTable and intuitive interface help to create a customer experience that impresses time after time. Rosie shared how something as simple as Square’s ability to effortlessly split a customer’s bill affects their experience.

“Back when we first opened I was a waitress, so I was taking payments with the tills and I genuinely got more feedback about the tills than anything else. They’d say, ‘Oh, that’s smart’. For example, if I was splitting the bill they’d be getting their calculators out but I’d say, ‘Don’t worry, I can do it’. I just press a button and it splits the bill and they’re like, ‘That’s so smart!’. I love that people love technology. So we do genuinely get a lot of feedback on that.“

Improved employee experience

Kitten’s success owes a huge debt to its excellent service staff. As such, the team wants to make sure that they are well looked after. As Rosie puts it, “They take care of the customers, so we take care of them”.

Square helps to improve the employee experience in several ways. Firstly, its intuitive interface means that they spend less time wrangling the technology and more time exercising their excellent interpersonal skills, making a fantastic impression and earning great tips. Square has also helped make Kitten’s tipping system more efficient, making it easier for the team to give staff 100% of the tips that they are due.

Improved operational efficiency

Like any new restaurant, Kitten needs to run a tight ship, with the efficient operations necessary to ensure healthy cash flow and strong revenues.

Daily reporting allows the team to ensure that staffing levels are optimal so that capital is not expended on surplus staff. Integration with OpenTable ensures that the team can plan around reservations. Employees can even identify customer wait times and plan future operations to drive them down. Meanwhile, Square’s inventory management counts down stock in real-time, eliminating the risk of selling out of customers’ favourites.

“One of my favourite things about Square”, Rosie told us “is that you can do the product count. So if a chef comes up to me mid-service and says, ‘Hey, I’ve got six Wagyu steaks left’, I can just go and put that on the till and it counts down as they’re sold. It just makes it so much smoother because if there’s a staff member that’s stuck at a table talking to a customer and I can’t get to them to tell them that we’re running low on something, the next time they go to the till they see it anyway”.

We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Kitten and its fantastic team, and we look forward to supporting them every step of the way. But what could we do for you? Get in touch today to see how Square’s suite of business solutions could transform your business operations.

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