An amble away from Porto’s most famous national monuments sits the humble Café Santiago da Praça.
Porto is a city of medieval alleys, gothic buildings, and old world icons (such as the Porto Cathedral, a thirteenth-century granite cake of a building), but Café Santiago da Praça is distinctively modern. It overlooks a square, cobble with white sun-bleached stones surrounded by some of Porto’s hippest food venues.
Neighbouring various other cafés and restaurants, Café Santiago da Praça has been able to survive through a number of trademark dishes exclusive to their establishment.
One of which is their take on Francesinha, a homegrown Porto dish. Café Santiago da Praça has a distinct Francesinha recipe passed through the family, deriving from the original Café Santiago which opened in 1959. Essentially, this is like a Portuguese version of the French Croque Monsieur, a sandwich with a selection of red meats in a hotbed of savoury sauce.
The café also serves popular Portuguese favourites, such as steak, eggs, and chips, the meat carefully tenderised for best results.
Customers know that there is something special about Café Santiago da Praça. It is no surprise that they’ve managed to stay in business and expand in Porto for so long. Recently, we spoke to them about some of the changes they have made to help the team manage guest reservations.
Portuguese restaurants are now enjoying the many cost-free benefits of a simple-to-use restaurant reservations system. Talk to us to learn more.
Café Santiago da Praça and Reservations
Since 2017, Café Santiago da Praça has run their business with their own bespoke reservation procedure. With the assistance of spreadsheet software, in which customer details can be processed, saved, and arranged in grids, the café was able to process reservations, albeit slowly.
Summing up the whole experience we asked the Café Santiago da Praça team what they thought about this tool. What problems did they have? “It slowed down our service,” they explained, “since we had to notify guests manually and couldn’t do it on SMS or WhatsApp.”
Using a digital spreadsheet meant having to search for guest names and retrieve either their email address or telephone number to contact them. This was problematic for staff.
On average, Café Santiago da Praça processes close to 1,200 covers per week. Using a manual reservation system was unsuitable for such a high turnover rate. Instead of being able to streamline guest reservations, the manual processes associated with spreadsheet software got in the way of things.
Like so, in their answer, the café mentioned SMS messages for a reason. They knew that sending out text reminders would be both much easier and faster.
The Ideal System
Speedy, responsive, and reliable — these are some of the words Café Santiago da Praça associated with the ideal digital system. Setting out to find one that would work for them, the café decided eventually to settle with Carbonara App.
Carbonara App is cost free, so a restaurant loses nothing to try it out. However, Café Santiago da Praça chose to employ the app permanently into their daily operations, preferring it to other systems on the market. Why?
“Well,” they replied, “it [Carbonara App] was well presented to us and covered all our needs. [We] didn’t see the point to keep looking [for other digital systems].” In other words, Carbonara App met all their expectations — especially when it came to its guest communication features.
Their Favourite Feature
“The messaging system,” Café Santiago da Praça told us straight away. Since this was precisely what they were looking for, Carbonara App was able to fulfil the need — all for free.
This is because Carbonara App’s SMS features sends out both automated notifications and reminders to bring guests in when their tables are ready. These features help to
- reduce the chance of restaurant no shows
- boost turnover efficiency
- improve guest expectations and experiences
Plus, SMS features save staff time. It is far easier to automate the guest reminder process than to go through the tired rigmarole of calling guests, crossing fingers then hoping and waiting for the guest to pick up the phone.
Using SMS features, Café Santiago da Praça found that guests were able to respond back in good time. With a two-way guest communication feature, customers can swiftly text back to inform the restaurant about any changes. Diners today prefer SMS messages to alternative guest communication methods — find out more.
Did you know Carbonara App also provides free WhatsApp messaging functionality? Many businesses now trust WhatsApp for vital services, a good sign for the hospitality industry. Learn how restaurants can quickly integrate WhatsApp into their reservations processes.
Better Guest Flow
Using a free restaurant app has a remarkable side effect on guest movements: it makes physical queues and crowds disappear.
Café Santiago da Praça said that, overall, Carbonara App helped to change and improve their services. “It did [improve our services] as it lets clients focus on other things and ‘roam around’ while waiting for a table.” With plenty of Porto attractions to see nearby, customers can now enjoy and take pleasure in this city’s marvellous scenery.
Remember — queues, crowds, and flocks of customers are not a restaurant’s “best advertisement”. Read more to find out why.
A Top Recommendation From the Team
In the end, Café Santiago da Praça had nothing but good things to say concerning their experience with Carbonara App. In both 2020 and 2021, the app also helped them face public health measures. “It helped us,” they said, “since it allows clients to move around while waiting for a table, which in turn avoids crowds at the entrance.”
So, would Café Santiago da Praça recommend Carbonara App to other restaurants interested in using the app for the first time?
It’s a solid yes. “[We]’d tell them not to have any fear or disbelief; it will surely work well for them too!”
Thanks to the team at Café Santiago da Praça!
If you liked this article, read more about restaurants nearby. Our article “Flor do Ave in Portugal is King of Traditional Cuisine” delves into a nearby venue’s positive experience with Carbonara App in Trofa, a local municipality.