The new value meal—fine dining and a side of broadband
Taking fine dining to the masses requires the right food, the right chef, and the right operational tools. So when the former executive chef of one of Washington, DC’s top restaurants and a local “Entrepreneur of the Year” partnered to create a truly innovative restaurant concept, they looked for a broadband provider that could grow with them. Chef Richard Beckel and Doug Palley turned to Hughes to help them set up their unique quick-service restaurant, Hooked, a fine dining seafood experience at the speed of your local deli.
Beckel and Palley conceived the idea to meet a growing demand for high-quality, healthy alternatives to traditional home delivery and take-out dining options outside of the downtown Washington metropolitan area. “We offer seafood at any price point—from $4.25 sushi rolls, to market-priced lobster tail,” explains Beckel. “And we fly our seafood in fresh daily.” Hooked also offers Beckel’s world-class skill, which has been fine-tuned under the tutelage of some of the nation’s finest chefs. Most recently, he was the executive chef of Washington’s Caucus Room and before that, former executive sous chef at Citronelle, one of Washington’s finest four-star rated restaurants.
In order to take full advantage of Beckel’s skill and make this clever restaurant prosper, the food must be delivered fresh—which also means fast. Not only does the fish have to be flown in daily, but the restaurant’s delivery service must be timely and efficient. “A restaurant is about flow,” says Beckel. “The more smoothly things work inside the restaurant, the happier the customer. To maintain that flow, HughesNet is at the heart of what we do every day.”
A foundation for success
When Beckel and Palley opened their flagship restaurant in Sterling, Virginia in May 2007, they were immediately confronted with an operational challenge. Cable and DSL operators did not service the shopping center in which they were located. “We had the option of a T-1 line, dial-up, or satellite,” says Beckel. “A T-1 was far too expensive and some of our most important applications would run too slowly on dial-up. HughesNet was the most workable solution to the task of developing the business.”
Today, Hooked relies on HughesNet service for most of its daily business needs such as credit card transactions, bill paying, and ordering from and communicating with suppliers via email. Something as simple as credit card processing is absolutely critical to the QSR business. At four o’clock, when the dinner rush starts, Hooked is inundated with customers. Slow transaction processing could severely hamper business and potentially cause them to lose customers.
“Our point-of-sale [POS] system runs on it and all of our credit card transactions are processed over HughesNet,” Beckel says. “People don’t think about a 14-second credit card transaction until the system goes down and it takes minutes to do things manually.”
HughesNet is also critical to the order execution and delivery process. When a customer calls in an order, Hooked’s POS system links caller ID information to Microsoft MapPoint® software. The caller ID uses the phone number to call up the customer’s address, which is used to mapout the delivery route from the restaurant to the customer’s door. When the delivery staff pulls the receipt, the directions are automatically printed out for their use. It’s a seamless process that takes seconds. “If we were on dial-up, it would take days to process one order,” says Beckel.
According to Beckel, “In the very beginning before we had HughesNet, we were frustrated and our customers were frustrated. Things weren’t smooth or flowing—and as I said before, flow is everything here.”
Looking to the future
Coupling Beckel’s skill with Palley’s business sense has this currently small business set up for big success. Two new locations in Ashburn and Reston, Virginia are currently under development, and Beckel and Palley aren’t shying away from ultimately franchising the business.
“I’m technologically challenged, but one thing I’m really excited about is how I can grow my business with HughesNet,” says Beckel. “I’ll be able to link all our operations regardless of location. I can monitor cash flow and security without having to be everywhere at once. I can run my business from one central place.”
Online ordering is another application that Beckel hopes HughesNet will enable. “We’re not there yet, but that’s certainly where the industry is headed. Once we’ve been in business a little longer, we’ll begin looking at how HughesNet can further our online presence.”Overall, Beckel’s satisfaction with HughesNet is high. “If you don’t have it, get it! If you want to make money, you have to service your customer properly. To service your customers properly, you need the right tools, and HughesNet has the tools.”