Zia Taqueria is an authentic Mexican taqueria with locations in Asheville, North Carolina, and Charleston, South Carolina. Chef Kevin Grant created the restaurant in 2008 as a culinary expression of the time he spent in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the nearby Sandia Mountains. At Zia Taqueria, you can enjoy award-winning Mexican, Southwestern, and Tex-Mex cuisine made from fresh, all-natural ingredients in a lively café and cantina. The high-quality, moderately priced menu features local and regional ingredients such as premium chiles straight from New Mexico — including the unique but hard-to-find green Hatch chile. Patrons rave about the margaritas made with house-squeezed limes, and recommend saving room for dessert, whether it’s the chocolate tres leches cake or the traditional sopapillas. Beyond the outstanding food and friendly service, Zia Taqueria also earns accolades for its commitment to environmental responsibility and generous community support.
In the restaurant industry, generic accounting solutions and manual processes quickly reveal their weaknesses. With 75 seats and two locations, Zia Taqueria found both accounting and operations to be a constant struggle. For example, both inventory management and recipe costing were time-consuming and error-prone processes that failed to give the accurate insight necessary to succeed in an industry with tight margins.
If I’d been throwing pepperonis on top of a pizza out of a bag, I might have been able to do my inventory just fine with QuickBooks,” explained Mr. Grant. “But with our broader menu, I needed a better way to manage my in-house recipes, track food yields, and control costs. In addition, I was wasting a great deal of time entering data into my POS system for inventory and then entering it all again into QuickBooks for accounting. I really wanted to eliminate that dual entry.”
Mr. Grant evaluated a number of software tools. “But I just kept coming back to the fact that Restaurant365 brought the most to the table,” he said. “It was clearly the best solution on the market.” In particular, Mr. Grant was impressed by the way R365 enables him to see both of his restaurants side by side and perform comparative analyses. Out-of-the box and custom reports make it easy to visualize key metrics in either summary or detailed views, enabling data-driven business decisions in real time.
The cloud-based platform also frees him from the desktop; now, he can work from either restaurant location, from home, or from anywhere else with internet access. R365 even enables him to securely grant his managers access to specific functionality, so he can offload particular tasks without losing overall control and approval authority.
After using Restaurant365 for only about a year and a half, Mr. Grant has already become one its most enthusiastic champions. “I’m a huge fan of R365,” he said. “I talk about it all the time. It makes accounting so much easier because it eliminates the need to enter data twice. I just enter each invoice and it’s done. Plus, it integrates seamlessly with my POS system, Aloha, so many of our invoices are uploaded automatically. Thanks to R365, I’ve been able to cut the time I spend on accounting by 25 percent.”
The platform has slashed the time required to complete the bank reconciliation process even more dramatically. “It used to take me 2 to 2½ hours to get everything reconciled,” reported Mr. Grant. “With Restaurant365, I’m done in half that time.”
In addition to the time savings from automation, R365 also provides Mr. Grant with a wide variety of reports and dashboards that enable him to run his business more efficiently. “I make a million decisions every day based on the numbers I get from Restaurant365,” he noted. “I use the tool every day in many different ways — for example, to accurately predict my staffing needs, meet my customers’ demands, and plan my budget.”
The top report he consults on a daily basis is the Daily Sales Summary (DSS), which provides an easy-to-read overview of key metrics for his two locations including net sales, total labor cost, and guest count. “I also check the General Ledger Account Detail quite often to keep track of my petty cash.”
Other reports provide a broader perspective, enabling restaurants to spot trends and make corrections in a timely manner. “The Weekly Review by Location report is fantastic for comparing your business to last month, last quarter, or last year,” noted Mr. Grant. “You can easily see whether important costs are in line with previous numbers so you can make changes quickly if you need to in order to control prime costs.”
One of the two key elements of prime costs is labor, and R365 provides the control and deep insight into labor costs that restaurants need to maintain their profit margins. “The scheduling module makes it very clear who is scheduled for overtime and who isn’t,” Mr. Grant said. “I really like that I can see things broken down by department instead of only by employee, and it’s very simple to copy and paste from one week to another.” To check on how scheduling actually plays out, he relies on the Labor Actual vs. Scheduled report. “It’s critical to make sure that what you’re scheduling is actually what’s actually being worked,” he said. “The R365 report makes it easy for me to see that I’m having, for instance, an overage of hours in the dish area or in line cooks, or other instances of staff being overscheduled or underscheduled.”
The other key component of prime costs is, of course, food costs. To control those costs, Mr. Grant turns to R365’s powerful Actual vs. Theoretical (AvT) analysis, which tracks the difference between what Zia Taqueria should have spent on food for a given period, based on the current cost of all ingredients, and what was actually spent. This report helps restaurants identify and remediate issues like imperfect portions, accidental waste, improper invoicing, and employee theft that are hurting their bottom line. Using the AvT analysis has enabled Mr. Grant to save money and make his business more profitable. “The level of detail you can create in R365 is tremendous,” he noted. “Before, I could track just the cost of goods against food. Now it’s broken down into beef, pork, poultry, seafood, etc. I have all the details and all the data I need, including the history of all purchase prices.”
Overall, Restaurant365 has proven to be an extremely worthwhile investment for Zia Taqueria and Mr. Grant recommends it without hesitation. “The value the platform brings is worth far more than the monthly service fee, without a doubt,” he said. “Restaurant365 is just fantastic and I love it.”