‘I Love Upserve’s Analytics Platform’: How Upserve Lets One Chef/Owner Focus on the Food

Eli’s Kitchen chef/owner and Chopped champion Eli Dunn admits he’s not the most data-savvy restaurant owner. But with Upserve’s insights and point-of-sale, he can use his time and energy to focus on serving up a memorable experience with local, sustainable ingredients, while his restaurant management solution provides:

  • Sales trend data
  • Server performance information
  • Scheduling integrations
  • Offline mode
  • Top-notch customer service
Eli Dunn Eli's Kitchen
Eli Dunn, chef/owner of Eli’s Kitchen in Warren, Rhode Island

Eli Dunn was destined to be a restaurateur. Born in the apartment above his mother’s restaurant, Phoebe’s Fish and Chips, he grew up watching her become a mainstay in the community, eventually working there himself. Starting as a 15-year-old dishwasher, Dunn worked his way up to prep work, serving, and ultimately the position of head chef. The ethos of restaurant work translated into the family’s way of life, as well. “Sitting down, eating together, sharing food in that way, was just something I grew up doing,” he says.

With that came insight into the business side of restaurant work, too. “My mother literally had fish buckets with receipts, and that was how she did her accounting,” he says. “She had an old-fashioned register with a pull crank. She was in the dark ages. She spent hours and hours doing her books.”

So when Dunn decided to open his own restaurant, the hyper-local Eli’s Kitchen in Warren, Rhode Island, he knew he had to have the right technology to help him run the business efficiently.

“It’s just incredible what we have now as business owners,” he says, “what we have access to and how much that frees us up to be able to actually focus on what we want to focus on, which is cooking.”

How Upserve Helps Dunn Get Back to Cooking

Upserve’s analytics and point-of-sale solution help Dunn focus on providing “comfort food with global influences” to guests each day.

Providing Powerful Analytics

“I love Upserve’s analytics platform,” he says. “I’m not the kind of person that’s real analytical and cerebral.”

Now that he has seen the power of the tool, there is no going back. While he does employ the services of an accountant and a bookkeeper, Dunn says he is able to figure out food costing, revenue and sales trends all on his own using the Upserve system. “I recommend it. The analytics, the interface with the software, is incredible,” he says.

Eli's Kitchen Shrimp and Grits

Keeping Staff Happy

There are a number of ways that Dunn keeps staff morale high with Upserve at Eli’s Kitchen.

First, his staff rings up orders on two Upserve point-of-sale terminals. He once tried switching off of Upserve to explore other options, and it was less than a month before he had it back in place to address staff concerns.

“We switched for two weeks and my staff almost mutinied. The interface, the software, was not as user-friendly, not even close. So we switched back,” he says. “Everybody loves it.”

Dunn is able to use Upserve’s integration with 7Shifts to easily manage staff scheduling right through the point-of-sale. And when his staff is at work, he uses Upserve to help keep them motivated.

“I give an Amazon gift certificate to servers who have the highest per-check average each month. I can just go into Upserve and find out who had the highest per-check average for the previous month,” he explains. “Doing that some other way would be a huge hassle and I probably would have never even had the idea to do it, but it literally takes me 30 seconds to do it this way.”

Better Customer Support Means Smoother Shifts

Having a problem in the middle of service is stressful enough; waiting for help from customer support shouldn’t make it worse. Dunn says with Upserve, he has the peace of mind to know his issues are being handled quickly so he can get back to operating at full capacity.

“The customer service is great. I can always call and talk to somebody within a couple minutes,” he says. “Some of the other companies, you’re on hold for an hour or something.”

Eli's Kitchen Falafel Wrap

Offline Mode Keeps the Restaurant Running

If a connectivity issue arises, Dunn knows he can still take orders and process payments seamlessly by putting his Upserve point-of-sale in offline mode. As someone who has been a customer longer than the feature has been available, he appreciates what offline mode can offer to busy restaurants.

“Now there’s offline mode and I get emails whenever there is a problem, keeping me updated with when it’s going to be resolved. We’ve had little to no interruptions with service, which is great,” he says.

The Freedom to Focus on What Matters Most

With experience in many different types of restaurants, and a passion for waste reduction and supporting local businesses, Dunn enjoys a certain freewheeling spirit in the kitchen that allows him to exercise creativity in a way that brings more satisfaction to guests.

“My business model from the very beginning was inclusivity, so I really wanted to have something on the menu for everybody, which is difficult to do. It’s a lot of work,” he says.

Relying on Upserve to handle the business end of restaurant ownership allows Dunn the time to stretch his muscle in the kitchen, and ensure he provides a memorable experience every day. Dunn says he uses Upserve to look at customer preferences, especially what new customers are ordering versus repeat customers, to determine how certain menu items are performing.

“Our little motto is, ‘Source responsibly, cook with love, and share with others,’” he says. “Cooking is an act of service.”