Every Thursday, a different SeamlessWeb customer tells us about how he or she orders from the site. Last week, we profiled our first restaurant owner. It went well, so this week we thought we’d do it again. So say hello to George from Bogota Latin Bistro:
Name: George Constantinou
Occupation: Co-owner of Bogota Latin Bistro (with Farid Ali)
How did you get started in the restaurant industry? Back in 2001, I was laid off from my internet job and I didn’t know what I wanted to do next. A friend of mine was bartending at a restaurant in Fort Greene and mentioned that the place was hiring. I got the job there and began simultaneously waiting tables and bartending. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I enjoyed this new field and the owner of the restaurant took notice of my work ethic and promoted me to manager. I enjoyed the extra responsibility that was being given to me, the interaction with the staff, the guests, the ability to mold the direction of the restaurant and in essence, mold the direction of my own career. Not only did I enjoy it, I felt I could do an even better job than my own boss at that time was doing! It was then that I decided that I wanted to open my own restaurant.
What is one thing that would most surprise readers about running a restaurant? The obvious fact is that it’s a lot of work. The one thing that would surprise readers the most is that I usually don’t even have time to eat in my own restaurant. I’ll come into work early and the next thing I know it’s midnight and the kitchen has closed. And because the restaurant is busy (not that I’m complaining), I place a premium on my in-house and delivery guests getting their food first and would feel guilty placing an additional strain on my already busy kitchen by placing a food order for myself. I know many other restaurauteurs who also don’t have the luxury of eating their own food, so we often actually go eat at the local late night pizza joint because that’s our only option.
What are your favorite/least favorite things about the restaurant business? My least favorite thing would be all the variables that can go wrong. There are so many people involved in the customer experience ranging from vendors to employees to government officials and laws that actually interfere and don’t support small business. I call these factors “the uncontrollables” and would also include among them inconsiderate guests who don’t know how to conduct themselves as exactly that: a guest. It’s extremely challenging making sure that the guest has a “seamless” experience from start to finish. On that note, however, it’s also extremely rewarding when we actually manage to accomplish that more often than not. To have a guest tell me on the way out, “Everything was wonderful—keep doing what you’re doing” speaks volumes and makes it all worth it.
How and when did you first hear about SeamlessWeb? Bogota Latin Bistro opened for business in 2005 and I first heard about SeamlessWeb from a rep by the name of Stephanie who approached us a year after opening. Prior to going into the restaurant business, my business partner Farid Ali used to work in a law firm in Manhattan that utilized SeamlessWeb for deliveries. Thus, he was very familiar with SeamlessWeb for corporate offices but was skeptical that it would work for us. However, from my understanding, SeamlessWeb was looking to branch out into Brooklyn and we both decided that it couldn’t hurt. (Ed: This could be the start of beautiful friendship…)
How has SW changed your business and how is it different from receiving phone orders? For starters, SeamlessWeb’s marketing has created more exposure for my restaurant’s delivery service. It allows my employees to be more available on the floor rather than being kept busy answering the phones and constantly putting guests on hold when taking their orders. In addition, with SeamlessWeb engaging in various social media platforms, we’re now integrating SeamlessWeb marketing into our own social media marketing. (Ed: You can follow Bogota Latin Bistro on Twitter and become a fan of theirs on Facebook)
What are the differences between preparing a dish for takeout/delivery vs. preparing it for someone who is dining in? The preparation of the food is the same. The presentation is what’s different. Of course with delivery, the food gets packed in an aluminum container with a plastic dome lid and what’s important here is that the packing is tight and doesn’t spill in the transport. In-house, we have greater control over the presentation. Because the dishes that normally would be presented on a single plate are now sometimes packaged among several containers, it’s important to double and triple check that the dish is complete before leaving the restaurant. It’s also important that the young men who pack and deliver the food for us understand that they too are part of the guest experience. We want our delivery customers, who may never have stepped foot in our restaurant, to get a hint of what our customer service is like via our delivery guys. As you can see, we actually feature them on our marketing materials. Our delivery guests have come to know and value them as much as our in-house guests have come to appreciate and value the staff here at the restaurant.
What’s your favorite thing on your menu? Being that this is a Colombian restaurant, my favorite appetizer on the menu is the Colombian Fritanga. It’s a great dish meant for sharing that contains fried pork, fried ribs, fried maduros, blood sausage, chorizo, and fried plantains. In terms of an entrée, my favorite has to be the Bandeja Paisa. It’s a traditional Colombian skirt steak platter (also known as the mountain platter) consisting of rice, beans, skirt steak, maduros, arepa, avocado, tropical cole slaw, and a fried egg over the rice. In Colombia, the Bandeja Paisa is what would be considered the best offerings one could present a guest. We feel the same way about this plate here at Bogota Latin Bistro.
What’s your favorite restaurant to order from on SW (besides your own)? Believe it or not, on my day off, my partner Farid and I will order from our own restaurant through SeamlessWeb (we really love the food and helping out our delivery guys). However, when I crave something else, I’ll order from Baluchi’s for Indian food. Big props to those guys for being on SeamlessWeb. I don’t spend enough time at home, so it’s nice to be able to have great food delivered when I am there. Farid and I also love how SeamlessWeb keeps track of our order histories to make ordering our favorites again even easier and we love the occasional discounts via emails and social media. These days, who doesn’t love discounts? (Ed: If you love discounts too, follow us on Twitter, become a fan of ours on Facebook, and keep reading the blog!)
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be the next Webber of the Week or if you’d like to suggest a friend!