San Juan in north Puerto Rico is a lively spot on the world map. Each year this five hundred year old city hosts vibrant street festivals and parades to mark the holiday season. Old San Juan’s cobblestone streets witness dancing, live music, and loads of food. Peko Peko, a Japanese restaurant, is lucky to be here.
The historic traditions of la ciudad amurallada or the walled city contrast neatly with Peko Peko’s cuisine from another country. They specialise in ramen, a Japanese dish which they take seriously. All ingredients are fresh, including the noodles, made from scratch on the restaurant’s grounds.
Peko Peko’s dedication to their dishes make customers feel like they’ve travelled to Japan and back in less than an hour. In fact, it’s the restaurant’s motto. In Spanish: Para que viajen a Japón sin montarse en un avión.
The fresh noodles go into about 1,200 bowls of ramen a week. Open since August 2020, Peko Peko’s interpretation of the recipe has kept customers coming back. Who could resist a blend of spring greens, lemon, and bottles of chilli sauce in a bowl of glossy soup?
Our team recently spoke with the restaurant, asking about their experience with Carbonara App.
Tricky Guestbook Management
Before opening a restaurant, Peko Peko had operated a food truck from 2015. Transitioning from a street vendor to a fully fledged establishment, they went the traditional route for handling guest management: they chose a pen-and-paper guestbook.
“Ha-ha-ha, that was tricky,” remembered the owner of Peko Peko, Arturo Carrión. “We used a notebook, the usual one, and a lot of training.”
Peko Peko developed their own way to conduct business, and a training routine helped prepare staff for an admittedly tricky system. “Each waiter had to be briefed on the restaurant’s protocol, such as after fifteen minutes of delay, [we] had to call the customer.” Having to chase down customers on their reservations via telephone slowed down workflow. This was the difficulty.
Carbonara App helped alleviate the issue. “Our management became more automated,” said Arturo, referring to the app’s automatic guest reminder features. “Now it is more orderly.
There is no need to pick up the phone and call, [giving] waiters more time to take care of their duties.”As an added bonus, Arturo no longer had to spend unnecessary time training staff on the processes and mechanisms of a pen-and-paper management book. Anyone with a smartphone can pick Carbonara App and use it less than five minutes.
Paper is a Problem
It’s quite simple. Many hands that sign and fill in a paper guestbook will inevitably lead to illegibility.
This was exactly what Peko Peko found.
“We were having problems from human errors,” said Arturo, “from scratches [scoring out names] to check if a customer had been seated, or customers being entered on the wrong page”.
Carbonara App provides a digital system that counteracts handwritten errors. Arturo found that it trumped the paper guestbook. “Carbonara [App] has completely centred the management of the business. On the contrary [compared to pen and paper], it is very easy.”
The Peko Peko team were especially pleased to discover this. They initially employed the app because, well, it’s free. “We were looking for an affordable alternative. We gave it a try and it worked flawlessly from day one. If it works, don’t change it!”
Message Features Are a Favourite
Many restaurants have enjoyed Carbonara App’s guest messaging features, supporting both SMS and WhatsApp. Peko Peko was no exception. The restaurant found these features most useful.
“We interact directly with the client, without making any second or third calls. If they don’t answer, we send them an SMS message. And if they don’t reply to the message, we move on to the next person in line.”
With a free guest messaging system in place, the restaurant is able to run a more efficient service — including text call back features. “We accept reservations (5-8 people), but we don’t have a large volume. We mostly utilize the waiting list.” With a waitlist in place, customers leave to return later.
Sailing Past Hard Times
Since Peko Peko opened in August 2020, for months they had to navigate government-mandated Covid measures. This was a difficult time for the hospitality industry at large, but Carbonara App managed to provide much-needed help. Did Carbonara App help Peko Peko during hard times?
“Sure, the fewer interactions, the less risk of transmission and the more streamlined the service. It eliminates contact and speeds up service. We still need to be cautious though there are no limitations.”
So what was the overall impact of using the app during these changes?
“What has happened will always remain in the industry: service automation. The integration of technology into the sector, which used to be run more manually.” Arturo was pleased to say that the changes Carbonara App helped to bring in have made running a restaurant much easier. Read more about how automation helps to keep restaurants in control of their daily operations.
Peko Peko Recommends Carbonara App
Peko Peko’s visitors can experience and explore San Juan’s most treasured places while they wait. The city’s impressive music conservatory, for instance, is less than ten minutes away. From remarkable architecture to fine culture, a great experience awaits everyone. Thanks to Carbonara App, customers can roam while still on the digital waitlist.
So would Peko Peko recommend Carbonara App to other restaurants?
Yes. Arturo said: “I would tell [restaurants] that, if they have a waiting list, you won’t regret it. It does help to have less burden, more tools and more time to devote to your customers.”
Thank you Peko Peko!
Interested in a free app? Talk to the team — find out how Carbonara App is helping restaurants build more efficient businesses today.