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Artichoke – Running a modern middle-eastern restaurant

Marcus, General Manager of Artichoke (@artichoke_sg) shares with us his favourite dishes and how they are different from typical middle-eastern cuisine. He also talks about harnessing the power of technology to streamline business operations by easing the workload on his team – from table management to integrated payments, all in one simple and portable device.

Transcript:

Hi, my name is Marcus and I am the general manager here at Artichoke. We are a modern Middle-Eastern restaurant. We are in the middle of the Bras Basah Arts District.

Modern Middle-Eastern isn’t traditionally Middle-Eastern food like what you will find on Arab Street or even on the streets in the Middle East, specifically. We love the flavours, we love the presentation and preparation. But of course in Singapore, where we have lots of different influences, we like to have fun with our food as well. It makes a lot of sense for us and for you to enjoy your food and not just in terms of how it tastes but also how it is presented and also in the environment that you eat your food in.

Dishes that we have in the restaurant that have been with us the whole time and these are the things that even if we wanted to take them off the menu there might be a riot. I’d say one of them would be the Green Herissa Prawns. This is something that has been with us for a really long time. In fact, it is one of Bjorn’s signatures. He’s even made it on a very early episode of Season 1 of Masterchef.

The other dish is a dessert, and it is a date pudding. It is not a sticky date pudding because that is a little bit English. Our date pudding has also gone through evolution and the current iteration has something that I find super amazing. It’s the combination of that steam pudding coupled with an espresso jelly that we make in house. And a cashew nut crumble that our pastry chef kind of made because she felt she needs something that is sweet and yet a little bit, yet a little bit crunchy and all these elements come together on a dessert that I would happily eat totally on its own, I do not need to share.

Running a restaurant obviously have many moving parts. You have the manpower elements. You manage people. You need to make sure that your team is well-motivated, they have the right skill set, they know what they are doing and they’re acquainted with the equipment. So it can be things like a coffee machine. It can be things like a new stove or a deep fryer. It can be things like our reservation system for example. We try to figure out how we can harness the power of technology, in a way we want to do things better and we want to improve things. So when you talk about how technology can help you as a business, you want to find ways to ease the workload on your team. We don’t want to be writing in a book anymore for reservations, for example. That’s super archaic and there can only be one book. There can only be one guy checking the book at any one time and that’s really outdated and really a burden on resources.

When we talk about tech, you want a platform that lots of people can access at any one time. You can do different things with it from confirming your reservations to contacting your customers to even table management. You want to be able to take a reservation and place them practically immediately and you can do that with tech. You want a system that can maybe integrate payments. So if you require pre-payment for example, to lock in your reservation or if you require pre-payment for a take-away order, you want to be able to do all that on a platform if possible. I think that would be one of the things I look out for just to make sure that the workload is lightened on my team. Qashier is a system that has evolved as well. I remember us being involved with them at a very early stage. So we spoke to them when all they had was one product, which was a tiny little Point of Sale (POS) system. Which to me it was amazing because in one physical unit, if I could find a way to put my order through and take payments and churn and print out the receipt, I felt that for me as a business it allowed me to do many things. It allowed me to first integrated many services in one device. It allowed me to be very mobile and it also gave me a lot of flexibility in how many people can operate one device or many devices if they are all linked at the same time. With all the concerns of running a restaurant, we are all so multi-faceted. I feel that Qashier has definitely helped me to streamline my work, streamline our workflows and it has added a lot to the productivity of my team.