Taziki's Mediterranean Café — Fueling Efficiency for This Scaling Fast-Casual Franchise

Fueling Efficiency for This Scaling Fast-Casual Franchise
As Taziki's Mediterranean Café grew into a franchise model, they needed a way to build customer loyalty and manage several locations with ease.
by Natalie Zunker Feb 16, 2024 — 4 min read
Fueling Efficiency for This Scaling Fast-Casual Franchise

About this business

Business Type

Restaurant Locations: 93


Multiple Locations
United States of America
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Keith and Amy Richards opened their first Taziki’s Cafe, a fast-casual fusion of American Southern and Mediterranean cuisine in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1998. The concept was born just a year after the couple vacationed in Greece, where they were inspired by the way the fresh food and warm community atmosphere brought locals together.

“We specialize in fresh ingredients and scratch-made recipes, but most importantly, we focus on human connection that only sitting around a table can really provide,” Tommy Traynham, Director of Technology at Taziki’s, told Square. “We like to have hospitality hosts at every shift to make sure all guests are being treated like our invited guests. Our hospitality hosts ensure you receive a greeting, get assistance ordering if you can’t decide what you want, and that your order is 100% correct. Giving our guests that ‘WOW’ experience whenever possible is what we strive for every day.” 

Since first opening over 25 years ago, Taziki’s has scaled tremendously, evolving into a franchise model. Today, there are 93 Taziki’s Cafes across the United States. With each new opening, they’ve continued to create that local cafe feel with a focus on fresh ingredients and close-knit communities — and it’s paying off big time with a bunch of loyal customers who keep coming back for more. 

Expansion didn’t happen without effort, though. First, the team needed to keep up with a growing surge of customers. As the business grew, new priorities emerged. On one hand, finding the right franchisees and setting them up for success became vital. At the same time, it was equally important to keep a close eye on the bigger picture. By leveraging restaurant tools that help them connect to their customers and embracing solutions that empower franchise owners and the corporate team, Taziki’s is scaling towards triple digits with ease.

Catering to a growing customer base with loyalty and marketing

Taziki’s emphasis on providing fresh meals and excellent service has helped draw new guests in droves. Naturally, when consumers started to prioritize conveniences like takeout in the 2010s, Taziki’s experienced a major surge in online orders. From 2016 to 2019 alone, online and to-go orders increased by 200 percent.

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To keep up with the demand, Taziki’s needed to offer a seamless in-line and online experience and more convenient ways for customers to order. It sparked the idea for their order-ahead app and loyalty program, TAZ Rewards. In the app, customers can place orders directly and then pick them up at their favorite location, saving time waiting in line.

The TAZ Rewards program, built using the Square Loyalty API, integrates directly into Taziki’s app, allowing customers to earn points through mobile, desktop, and in-store orders. Over the last year, Taziki’s has been making updates to the program that will soon offer greater deals for customers, including the ability to access limited-time offers on new items, earn double points during select time periods, and redeem higher-value rewards as they collect more points. 

By creating multiple access points and using a buildable loyalty program, Taziki’s gives customers a great opportunity to return. And because the team uses Square Payments, they can pull data about customer orders and make wise loyalty and promotion decisions for each location. In the Square Dashboard, the team uncovered that TAZ Rewards members spent 161% more in 2023 compared to non-loyalty customers.

To help keep customers in the know about local promotional offers or new menu launches, Taziki’s uses Square Marketing. Customers simply enter their email at checkout (in line or online), and it’s added to a built-in database that the team can generate a mailing list from. With this setup, Taziki’s can inspire customers to return, reward those who do, and maintain relationships that last. 

Evolving the tech stack for franchisees

Fostering lasting customer relationships has helped Taziki’s be in a position to scale as a business. But for any restaurant opening new locations, hurdles like finding strong candidates and retaining strong employees are part of the process. “Keeping good people is always a challenge because good people want to grow, and we don’t want to stifle that. We have to be sure we’re finding a good balance between their personal career paths and the business,” explained Traynham.

To create an environment where employees can thrive, Taziki’s recognized the need for technology that uplifts their staff. “It’s really helpful to be able to put Square in front of a new hire, and they just get it. They don’t need much training,” said Traynham. “It’s intuitive, not just for the employee on the front end, but for the employee on the back end. When we added Square for Restaurants in one of our stores, it only took about 10 minutes for our entire staff to be completely fluent. It’s just that easy to use.”

Today, Taziki’s is transitioning its stores from Square POS to Square for Restaurants, which includes features made specifically for restaurant businesses like advanced reporting and live sales, kitchen performance reports, and remote device management. As part of this transition, they are onboarding Square for Franchises. According to Traynham, making the switch was a natural step for the business, as they needed enterprise-level management capabilities, especially as they were nearing 100 storefronts. 

The benefits: greater overall visibility and efficiency 

The changes to Taziki’s tech stack are already helping the business operate more efficiently. Square for Restaurants and Square for Franchises allows the team to grant different markets flexible access permissions. Franchise owners can make changes to their accounts, while the corporate team can manage larger updates, operating like a command center. “For my entire time at Taziki’s, we’ve had to input prices for franchisees ourselves. It might take eight hours to update a two-store market. But in Square for Franchises, we can do it in 20 minutes,” Traynham said. 

With more oversight over the entire business, Taziki’s can resolve challenges for franchisees faster, too. This is, in part, thanks to the remote device management feature. “Typically, I haven’t been able to look at our devices in the field. I’ll have to call or email a location and say, ‘Can you send me your serial number?’ But now I can just look on device management and get the job done without having to loop in three people who are trying to run a restaurant and don’t have time,” Traynham explained. 

The team is also leaning into partner integrations to help increase efficiency across locations. For instance, Taziki’s is in the process of onboarding a new restaurant management platform that integrates accounting, operations, workforce management, and business intelligence with Square. “It’ll drop our administration time on Monday mornings from four hours to probably one, if even that,” said Traynham.    

Looking ahead, growth is a continued focus for Taziki’s team. Over the next twelve months, they aim to surpass 100 locations. As they work toward the milestone, they will continue to lean into technology. “We spent 2023 planning the rebuild of the tech stack; 2024 is when things are happening,” Traynham said. “We plan to be done with the transition for Square for Restaurants, and we are moving everyone off of a proprietary clock-in onto Square Teams, which we’ve never done before. We’re excited about that.” 


Natalie Zunker
Natalie Zunker is an editor at Square. She specializes in developing strategic content for restaurant sellers to help them run their business and reach their goals.

Products mentioned

Square Restaurant POS

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Square Loyalty

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Square Marketing

Square Marketing

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