‘It’s Just So Intuitive’: How Upserve Supports an Award-Winning Bar and Restaurant

Upserve powers the technology behind Bitter & Twisted, a cocktail lounge and restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona that has earned worldwide acclaim for its craft cocktail program. While staff and guests focus on drinks, owner Ross Simon relies on Upserve for its:

  • Cloud-based point-of-sale
  • In-depth analytics
  • Intuitive management tools
Ross Simon, owner of Bitter & Twisted
Ross Simon, owner of Bitter & Twisted

Restaurateur Ross Simon came to America with $1,000 in his pocket and a dream of opening his own bar. A veteran in the industry, he started out by washing dishes in Scotland at his family’s restaurant. Over the next two decades, he then learned the rest of the operation by working in pubs and bars, and for suppliers to distributors. “I was trying to learn every aspect of the industry to hopefully increase the success of when I actually got to opening my own place one day,” he explains.

As an employee of London’s LAB bar, a pioneer of the late-1990s cocktail renaissance, Simon learned an appreciation for the craft. He was inspired to bring the same energy to his new home of Phoenix, Arizona, and pay respect to the art of cocktail-making. “A lot of places, they build a restaurant and then they plonk a bar in the corner,” he says, adding that he wanted more for his own space. “From its infancy, the bar was designed first and everything else around that, from the bar up, if you will”

With that, Bitter & Twisted was born. In just over four years, the high-volume cocktail bar has amassed dozens of awards—including being named one of Tales of the Cocktail’s 10 best cocktail menus in the world in 2018—for its 80-plus drinks made with housemade juices and syrups.

Accolades may translate to increased revenue, but Simon uses Upserve to make sure he’s continuing that success by making every decision strategically.

Bitter and Twisted

How Upserve Simplifies Restaurant Management

Managing a 150-seat space with more than 30 employees is no small task. Simon uses Upserve to help relieve some of the pressure.

It just gives you a great bird’s-eye view of your entire operation. You can really see what you’re selling, how much you’re selling, and to whom. It’s very intuitive,” he says, noting that he appreciates being able to add new menu items instantly from the point-of-sale or remotely. “It’s just having that kind of seamless transition of getting the data, but also utilizing the data, and also seeing what’s going on in your bar or restaurant. It’s so handy.”

Ease of use is one of the reasons he recommends Upserve to other restaurateurs.

“I just think it’s very usable. I think it’s more reliable than other systems. It’s just a great go-to small business solution, and the initial investment is nowhere near the cost of traditional POS systems,” he says.

Plus, it’s a system that was built by restaurateurs, for restaurateurs.

Compared to other iPad-based POS systems, you can tell it was designed originally by people in the restaurant industry. It’s very intuitive in how you expect a POS system to work, and it just delivers.”

Ross Simon Bitter & Twisted POS

Industry-Leading Product Features

Simon can point to a number of key features that keep business running smoothly every day.

Cloud-Based Point-of-Sale

Upserve’s cloud-based point-of-sale checks all the boxes Simon considers for his technology purchases:

  • Reliability: “I need a POS to work, be responsive, and be easy to maintain. It needs to function without constantly having issues so I can update things—I can add things, I can add new menus—and not have to call up tech support just to do very simplistic tasks like that,” Simon says, adding that Upserve’s offline mode is also key. “It really has to be reliable. It has to be there if the internet’s out. Because the world doesn’t stop if there’s an internet outage.”
  • Easy Training Capabilities: It’s a “no-brainer” to look for “a system with a user interface that is easy to train new team members, that’s intuitive,” he says.
  • Tableside Tablets: Bitter & Twisted servers use iPads to take orders and process payments and tips tableside, allowing them to see when an item has been 86’d. “Before, they might have to walk back to the standing POS system and then, even if it’s got the capability of saying something’s out of stock, they still walked away from the table before discovering it’s out of stock. Then they have to go back to the table, and that’s wasted five minutes of service or turnaround time,” Simon explains. “The mobility aspect is so important in this space of ours. The server can take multiple orders from two different tables next to each other without having to come back to a base station POS. It’s very seamless.”
  • Technology Integrations: Integration with partners is nice,” Simon says. “I really love the integrations and how Upserve is working with other tech partners to just add more benefits to the service, like homebase.”

Tableside ordering with Upserve

In-Depth Analytics

With Upserve, Simon is able to see sales numbers for any given day, month, or year, and compare them to previous periods “to kind of have a better guess or prediction about how the month’s going to go versus last year, and what staffing levels you need to set.”

And aside from his own staff’s performance, he is able to see guest preferences, as well.

I really dig the analytics, when you can really see who your best guests are, what they’re drinking, what they’re eating, and how to look after them,” Simon says, noting that syncing sales with credit card data allows restaurants to get to know customers on a deeper level. “You can actually see when guests return and what they love, because they connect with their payment method. I really dig that aspect of it.”

Management Tools

“Upserve HQ is probably the first thing I do in the morning, apart from obviously when I kiss my better half and say, ‘Morning, darling,’” Simon says, noting that the Logbook feature is especially helpful for staff to communicate with him directly. “It really is a review of what’s happened the night previously, where my managers have questions that we’ve set up in the questionnaire so we can see who came in that night, were there any incidents, did the kitchen run smoothly?”

The Payoff

Even when it leads to a multitude of prestigious awards, restaurant work is hardly glamorous.

“You walk in and the ice machine’s broken, and there’s a leak, and you’re wading through water, and you’re down fixing the toilets,” Simon says. “It’s got its hurdles. It’s very draining, but worth it, because it’s the industry we love.”

Still, he says there’s always motivation to open the doors each day so he can provide stellar service for guests and a positive work environment for staff. That’s why he continues to work through challenges.

“It’s definitely giving your team a great place to work, and great satisfaction when you put smiles on your guests’ faces with something you’ve created, whether that be food or drink, and giving them a place that they keep on coming back to,” he says. “I think that’s the biggest success anyone can have.”