In launching our new “Success Stories” series in our newsletter, the first success story that came to mind is Hapa Ramen & Whiskey, a client whose website we had just redesigned at the end of 2019 and who jumped quickly to get online takeaway orders going at the start of the pandemic. I asked him about his experience at the beginning of all this craziness.
Our business wasn’t a take-out business at all, and we were a very small restaurant that used to pack it in, weekend heavy. So we would rarely answer the phone for reservations. We didn’t take reservations; we didn’t really take to-go orders until the main rush was over. It wasn’t a priority for us, so maybe we’d do a couple a night. But when this pandemic happened it completely changed how we did business. We had to evolve, and I think what you guys did at FireSpike, to give us our own interactive online ordering system and then letting our customers know that you can still order food without going through a third party was really beneficial for us—it changed how we did business and we were able to survive for seven months now doing it this way. It was really important to have that because we were able to keep our employees on and give them work to do and be efficient. It’s very difficult to do what we did. A lot of restaurants weren’t able to make that transition. We’re just lucky we were able to do it.
I also asked Michael what else they did, beyond just the online store, that helped them to survive, that other restaurants didn’t.
We stayed open the whole time. We never closed. There might have been a two-day period where we just kind of stopped and froze—it might even have been a day—we just stayed open, we let all our employees know that something major was happening so the schedules were going to be different. But by staying open people would still call in and say, “Hey, you guys still doing it?” and I’d say, “Yep!”
And we shot weekly videos just to let the people who follow us on social media know that this is what’s going on with our business, and this is how we’re being safe, so that showed people that we were still available and that they could still get food, it was just going to be different: how they order it and how they pick it up.
I’ll share the entire interview in a future blog post.