HOUSTON - Restaurant jobs were a significant part of the July jobs report, but hiring challenges and inflation fears are still keeping staff pretty tight. In response, 'some' establishments are relying, more, on a digital connection to keep customers happy.
At Houston's Roostar Vietnamese Grill, near the Galleria, the kitchen is busy during a recent lunch rush, where printers, in the kitchen, spit out a steady stream of online and carryout orders that are a vital part of the business.
"Without it, we wouldn't be able to make it through," says owner Linda Nguyen, who started the small chain of restaurants with her husband, nine years ago.
Before COVID-19, remote carryout ordering was a growing part of the business that exploded during the shutdown, even rivaling pre-pandemic volume. With an app developed and managed by Houston software company HungerRush, Roostar customers get quick and accurate access to their orders.
"We can see customer history, we can see dietary restrictions, so it makes it really easy for our guests to call," says Nguyen, "We have the guest's name, we have the phone number, and now they have a history with us."
The HungerRush ordering system connects to typical delivery services, like DoorDash and Uber Eats. In the process, it takes much of the labor out of the time-consuming job of getting orders out the door, while freeing-up existing staff to concentrate on keeping customers happy.
"You have opportunities to turn the very finite resources a restaurant is going to have from a labor perspective, to focus on producing food or engaging directly with the customers," says HungerRush's Perry Turbes.
After more than two and a half years of COVID-19 restrictions, and managing labor shortages, there's something to be said for a restaurant that still has its doors open.
For those using an online method for connecting with customers, they say there is no way they can go back.