Castilla y León is a cultural capital in parochial Spain. Brimming with jaw-dropping historic sites across the northern wilds (Medieval castles are a regular landmark), the region is also host to some of the country’s great hospitality settings.
One such location is near the city Valladolid. In Tudela del Duero, one street away from the Douro river stands the colourful, close-knit buildings of C. Antonio Machado whose orange-red tinted doorways offer visitors a delectable setting to eat out and socialise under the shop’s sun-bleached awnings.
Gastrobar el Arco, a corner restaurant on the street’s end, is a favourite among town dwellers. Good, well-made dishes are an immediate association people make with Gastrobar’s blend of Iberian styles: citrusy ceviche with seafood, traditional tacos with crispy tortillas, red velvet cakes as big as bull hearts with other modern takes on American desserts.
Indoors is a swanky European diner, with a wood-toned atmosphere surrounded by stone walls. It is representative of Gastrobar’s ambition: to blend the old with the new.
“We have brought a pioneering concept to Tudela del Duero,” owner Alberto Diez told us. “We mix tradition with modernity.”
They are also a reservation-based venue that recently switched to using Carbonara App — for free. We spoke to Alberto about the benefits the Gastrobar team have enjoyed since making the switch.
Summary — What’s Inside:
At some point all good restaurants experience a surge in guest demand. In this respect Gastrobar is no different than the rest.
Enjoying frequent success in the past few years, Gastrobar el Arco has used a manual reservations system to manage customer arrivals.
Previously, they operated on a pen-and-paper agenda system, as Alberto soon explained. “Old-fashioned reservations (pen and paper) before,” he said. “We [didn’t] have a waiting list, although we [did] occasionally accommodate walk-ins.”
When COVID-19 curbs were still in place Alberto witnessed a significant drop in guest numbers — but demand soon returned. After the local government announced a relaxation on COVID-19 measures, guest numbers naturally changed. Now, at weekends, Gastrobar has witnessed their reservations jump to max capacity.
“It’s always packed,” Alberto said. Guest management soon became more demanding. Over the course of this change Alberto and his team decided to try a digital resolution.
In everyday life, Alberto’s team once took care of reservations with a landline phone. Getting phone calls for reservations is standard practice in the industry — but specifically, Gastrobar had an extra layer of work to deal with: memory.
“You would forget about reservations,” Alberto explained, remembering; “especially those that were far away in terms of time”.
To make matters more complicated, Alberto employed a double-booking method that only served to stagnate his team’s efficiency. Guest reservations, he told us, “were written down in two different registers”. If a customer made a new reservation, this required Gastrobar’s staff to double down on their efforts, to ensure communication between team members.
Paper-based guestlist management soon proved to be a big hassle. To ensure everyone was up to speed on the day’s upcoming reservations, double-booking methods proved tediously inefficient. Gastrobar saw immediately that less paper would come to their advantage.
However, like many first-rate restaurants in Europe, the Gastrobar team were reluctant to discard a traditional pen-and-paper system because — quite simply — they viewed alternatives with suspicion.
The team presumed that a pen-and-paper system was their only option, a method with clear shortfalls that they just had to learn to live with.
Tech insecurity played a part in all this, as Alberto reported his own experiences with previous digital systems.
However, coming across Carbonara App, Alberto soon regained faith in a reservation system’s capabilities. On why he chose Carbonara App over other systems, Alberto responded:
“Well, for convenience. It was our first time [using a digital system]. [Carbonara App] is free and offers many possibilities. With other systems, we are not always the ones who control the reservations. With others, such as The Fork, there are third parties involved in the management and we don’t rely on possible external errors.”
Alberto touches on a key fear among hospitality leaders: the mistaken belief that all reservation systems limit the restaurant’s control over their guest reservations.
This is false. Conversely, reservation systems like Carbonara App enhance the restaurateur’s control. Find out how this works.
Gastrobar has made work far easier with the help of Carbonara App. The team have found the app’s reservation features most useful.
Carbonara App allows restaurants to receive key guest information without having to tweak this out from customers. “The annotation section to check for allergies,” Alberto said, was very useful — including “the customisation options” for table accessibility, such as accommodating for, in his own words, “babies, animals”.
Even during the slow days of COVID-19 measures, Alberto found Carbonara App an excellent tool. “We began using Carbonara App back in 2021,” he said. “Carbonara [App] has helped us to keep a good organisation of the restaurant.” This is because the app’s team provides auxiliary support whenever clients need it, whatever the situation, including challenges in years ahead.
Overall, Alberto was more than pleased to finally find a reservations management solution that was both cost-free and effective. We asked directly if Carbonara App has improved the quality of Gastrobar’s service and customer experience.
And we received a confident yes in reply.
“Reservations are managed efficiently and we have an outstanding organisation of the restaurant. We are in control of our reservations. So yes, we believe it has had a positive impact on the guest experience.”
In the end, would Alberto recommend Carbonara App to other small restaurants?
“Definitely give it a try. You won’t have a bad experience. It improves the staff coordination and any help is welcome.”
Restaurants like Gastrobar el Arco were able to pick up Carbonara App and learn how to use it in no time at all. That’s because contrary to popular belief, restaurant tech is really easy to pick up. Make sure to contact us with your questions, and like Alberto Diez reap the benefits of free restaurant management technology.