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The Mews, as it’s known, is a local institution and a thriving business that despite it’s deep-seeded traditions is using technology in surprising ways.

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Josh Campbell, is the Managing Director of Mews Tavern, a classic Rhode Island tavern known for it’s 69 beers on tap, selection of over 200 single malt scotches, it’s prize winning burger and “unique” character.

The Mews, as it’s known, is a local institution and a thriving business that despite it’s deep-seeded traditions is using technology in surprising ways.

We recently invited Campbell to visit Upserve HQ to meet with our team and share his experiences using Upserve. Not surprisingly, Campbell is a busy guy, with The Mews seeing an average of 600 to 700 turns between three bars and one dining room on a Friday night, so we appreciated his taking the time to stop by.

“The goal is to deliver the best customer experience consistently across all dining areas.”

Our conversation gave us great insights into how Upserve’s technology is helping him simplify daily tasks while continuing to grow the business.

Here’s the highlight reel:

Q: Have you been surprised by any of the data Upserve provides?

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A: Seeing new versus repeat customers was sticker shock, because there’s way more new than repeat. There’s more expenditure from new.

We also have a lot of Happy Hour regulars, with lower transactions. There’s an opportunity to get our staff to lead customers to spend more.

We’re trying to teach them suggestive selling, not upselling. This proves they know what they’re selling by suggesting a beer to pair, describe items only we have or we’re known for. Some staff does it, some is a work in progress.

Q: If you were away for 30 days, how would you see what’s most popular since you left?

A: I used to pull it from Micros and see the top 20 items by any date range, but it doesn’t tell me what new people are gravitating toward. Some items go up one week and down another, but the Micros report doesn’t tell me the story behind anything, not like Upserve does.

“I prefer to have solid numbers, because they don’t lie.”

Q: Do you use the Upserve heatmap?

A: Yes! I look at busy times week over week to adjust staffing. Two to 4pm is always a tough stretch, so we’ve come up with a few things to put out there to bring some business in during those hours, including a rack of beer and an app at a low price.

Q: How did you gauge busy times before Upserve?

A: Managers’ handwritten notes that we save and compare day to day, week to week, and year over year. But it’s all based on perception – we had no actual numbers. I prefer to have solid numbers, because they don’t lie. I’m not playing games or playing favorites that way.

Q: You just changed your menu – did you lose profit adjusting or spend hours figuring it out?

A: We’re still spending hours understanding it three months later.

When you change to a scratch kitchen, food cost drops but labor costs double. I have a prep kitchen in the basement with four guys prepping everything, and their hours almost tripled. When you’re not shaving off elsewhere, you have a major problem. That hit us full steam in our PNL reports two weeks after the menu rolled out, and we had to make a lot of changes.

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I had to take out four items that were too labor-intensive to make based on profit they bring in. I care what guests think, but sometimes you have to make drastic changes to survive.

Q: When you batch out, how would you find out who your five biggest spenders were that night if you didn’t use Upserve?

A: I couldn’t. Sometimes, if there’s a will, there’s a way that you can get some info through Micros’ awful reporting, but it’s hours upon hours of work that no owner is ever going to do.

“Anyone who doesn’t use Upserve is an idiot… Why wouldn’t I use Upserve – who gives me something that helps me run my business, versus someone else who doesn’t give me anything and just takes money?”

Q: What’s your turnover like?

A: Not as much as other restaurants. I have employees who have been here 15-20 years. Sometimes my host staff move on when they graduate URI and pursue their careers, but I don’t have turnover due to lack of growth in the business.

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Q: If you have a free hour, what do you do?

A: Relax! Honestly, I would probably spend it on the floor with my staff to try and be more in tune with them, and talk to the guests. One of the best parts of my job is to see what brings them to Mews. For instance, if it’s their first time, I want to know where they came from, where they heard about us, what they had, what they liked or didn’t like.

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In a perfect world, Theresa would spend her days reading good books and writing all the time... and she'd own all the shoes her heart desired. When she's not on the hunt for shoes, you can find this Rhode Island transplant on the hunt for food that comes close to "Long Island". Her favorite? Caffe Dolce Vita in Providence's historic Federal Hill.
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