After 20 years, Esperanto owner Dimitri Vlahakis has been able to expand to a second location thanks to the efficiencies and insights Upserve has provided, like:

  • Detailed, insightful reporting
  • Remote access to key metrics
  • Time back in his day to spend giving guests a top-notch experience

After starting in the restaurant industry as a dishwasher, Dimitri Vlahakis was able to work his way up to owner, opening the doors at Esperanto in New York’s Lower East Side in 1999.

“We’ve always wanted to give you a sense of a little bit of escape, coupled with good, inexpensive prices,” he says.

In the 20 years since he first served a plate of Northern Brazilian cuisine to a customer, the way Vlahakis has run his business has changed. For one, he’s no longer taking orders by hand. Instead, he uses Upserve POS, a full platform solution for restaurateurs looking to run their business more efficiently. Upserve has proven so helpful that it was also chosen to power his newest venture, the forthcoming Greek tapas concept Karvouna.

Here’s why Vlahakis continues to choose Upserve to power his businesses.

An Industry-Leading Point-of-Sale

Esperanto relies on Upserve POS to take orders and communicate with the back of the house about the specifics of each guest’s preferences and dish modifications.

“You need to have one part of the operation talking to the other part of the operation. They need to know what everybody’s thinking,” Vlahakis says, noting that using a POS is a vast improvement over the pen-and-paper ordering Esperanto once used. “What it affords us is the ability to coordinate our efforts for sale much more effectively.”

And while servers currently only use tablet-based POS terminals to take orders, Vlahakis plans to add table-side ordering into the mix.

“Ordering at the table is something I always try to push—having tablets and taking them to the table to be able to order on the spot,” he says. “I’m not doing it anywhere right now, but I like to have that option.”

An Intuitive, Easy-to-Use System

Vlahakis acknowledges that most restaurateurs don’t get into the business because of the technology.

“I’m not afraid of technology so I don’t have this problem, but I can see when you get into this business, you want to cook food, you want to be hospitable, and that’s the core of the business. You’re not thinking, ‘I want to program my menu,’” he says.

That’s why Vlahakis recommends Upserve POS to other restaurant owners in his community, a solution whose ease-of-use is key. “They don’t want to spend a lifetime with technology, but the technology is a part of the game,” Vlahakis says. “They need to be able to learn it in a short period of time so that they can start serving customers and stay focused on the customers. I get a lot of feedback from the managers that Upserve POS is easy to use, much easier than the other POS’s we’ve used in the past. The less intrusive in the operation, in the day-to-day, the better. And it works for us.”

Robust Sales Reporting

In a small business operation like Esperanto, Vlahakis says he has a handle on top-performers and what stale menu items may need to be cut. But he still relies on Upserve’s sales analytics and data for:

  • Sales patterns: “Most of the time, what I’m looking for is the ebb and flow, to see what period of year, for example, our sales are up or down.”
  • Seasonality: “To see what’s coming up when there’s holidays, to see what’s coming up seasonally for us, so we can make plans.”
  • Uncovering new insights: “You do get surprises sometimes. An item sells more than you realize.”

“We’re going to make good decisions anyway, but having the information helps to clarify things. Sometimes it’s just reinforcing decisions you’re making anyway. It helps to reinforce them,” Vlahaskis says.

Remote Accessibility

Vlahakis relies on having his daily Upserve reports emailed to him automatically each morning, without having to log in to a separate site. “I get a bunch of reports and I don’t like to go looking for them, so the fact that I get these daily reports, these weekly reports…the information I need is being fed to me,” he says. “It’s a matter of tailoring your data input so that the output is what you need.”

It also helps him stay on top of any issues that arise when he’s offsite.

“When I’m not here, I can communicate with people what I think is the best way to resolve the problems that come along. There’s many problems every day, and it’s better to handle them quick,” Vlahakis says. “I don’t have to be here to see the little details that are important when I need to get in touch with somebody, so it helps us communicate better.”

The Ability to Spend More Time with Guests

“The thing that I love the most about the restaurant industry is the people that you meet. Customers, friends, the thing is that over the years, if you really embed yourself in the business, you have to become part of a family with the people that you’re working with,” Vlahakis says.

A powerful solution like Upserve gives him the freedom to get back to that aspect of small business ownership.

It’s been able to help the front-of-house, and back-of-house, execute transactions much more efficiently. They spend less time thinking about what they have to put into the computer or what they have to write down. It’s more organized for them, and the less time that they sit at the POS, the better. Because I want them to spend as much time as possible in front of the customer,” he explains.

“By giving me the information and the reports, giving us the information that helps us to tweak our business so that it’s better suited for the customers. It goes into the background, it gives us information efficiently, quickly, and it gets out of the way, which is what we need because our focus is the customers—it has to be.”

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Holly Everett is a five-year restaurant industry veteran turned small business marketing specialist. After working at Seven Stars Bakery in Providence, Rhode Island throughout college, she entered the world of marketing where she led B2B marketing initiatives at companies focusing on growing small businesses.