Cava Mezze & The ROI of ‘Experience’

Fast Company: Cava Mezze, a chain of 24 Mediterranean restaurants, is using “a system of sensors … to monitor everything from customer wait times to food-safety practices … to boost Cava’s ROI of experience.” Chief data scientist Josh Patchus “trains motion sensors (stationed in select restaurants) on customers as they’re waiting to order. What he found: Lines tend to bunch up near the menu board and while people are selecting ingredients at the serving station … Rather than limit customers’ options, he redesigned the menu boards so that customers know what to expect when they reach the serving station. The change has helped lines move 10% faster and hold 12% more people.”

“Sensors in the restaurants’ seating areas show that customers in urban locations often stay only long enough to eat, but in the suburbs they prefer to linger … Patchus suggested increasing seating at the suburban outposts by 30%, allowing them to accommodate large groups. Those parties boosted revenue in the redesigned stores by 20% per square foot … Patchus uses the sensors to monitor back-of-house operations. Walk-in refrigerators can now tell managers how long they’ve been left open, and if there have been any temperature or humidity spikes … food-quality complaints from customers have dropped 28%.”

“If the cash register is too close to the serving station, customers have to shout their choices, and it can be hard for them to hear the server’s response. Sensors track decibel levels in the ordering area; if they’re high, Patchus suggests a remodel.” Patchus comments: “To understand our customers, we have to be around our customers.”


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