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Savage Labs on Using Toast to Create Community and Deliver a Great Customer Experience
This inclusive new restaurant and cocktail bar concept delivers living room vibes in the vibrant Wynwood Arts District of Miami.
The five Co-founders of Savage Labs are certainly no strangers to hospitality. Between them, they have decades of experience in bartending, events, festival operations, nightclub management, and more.
“I was a bartender for about 12 years and my husband [and fellow Co-founder, Sebastian Velleman] was a General Manager in nightclubs all around Miami,” shared Nancy Sayegh. “Another partner of ours, Samwell, was also a manager of bars and nightclubs and he has a bartending school. And then our other two partners, Joyci and Joey, have bars here in Miami and in New York.”
But, as Miami locals, they found that following the closure of their go-to spot, Bardot, they didn’t have anywhere to just hang out that matched the laid-back vibe they were looking for.
“Back in the day, Bardot was the spot where you could go chill and it wasn’t pretentious in any way. When that shut down, there was really nothing else like that in Miami,” shared Nancy. “We wanted to open a club and give it a more upscale vibe — because Bardot was a little grungy — and elevate the experience a little bit but still keep it down to earth.”
And thus, Savage Labs was born.
“Savage Labs is a community space that the partners and I put together out of necessity,” said Nancy.. “It’s a place where you can go with your friends and feel like you’re at home. We made the vibe very ‘living room’ for that reason, so everybody can feel comfortable and at home.”
“It was just kind of a melding of all of our ideas to have a chill spot,” she added.
Creating a community of artists, musicians, and locals
At Savage Labs, there’s no such thing as an “average” day. From burlesque and dinner shows to open mic nights for musicians, there’s always something new and exciting happening at the restaurant.
“We work with a lot of local talent doing showcases. We work with local comedians doing comedy showcases and other things like pottery classes,” Nancy said. “In everything we do, we have the community in mind.”
Nearly every one of Savage Labs’ 700+ Google reviews mentions two things: the amazing food and the incredible experience, with one user even reporting that “the fries and vibes are the best in Miami.”
“We all came from the hospitality industry and we worked really hard to put this place together to give the community something that could hopefully make a difference for them, whether it’s in a small way or in a big way like giving artists space to perform and to build on their practices,” shared Nancy.
“I wish we had Toast from the beginning. It would have saved me a lot of money.”
When Savage Labs first opened in 2022, they chose Clover as their point of sale (POS) platform based on a personal connection.
“This is our first brick-and-mortar. So when we got to the phase where we needed a POS, a friend of ours was like, ‘Hey, I know this guy who sells POS systems [for Clover],’” Nancy said.
After a meeting with the Clover sales rep, they were led to believe that it would be a perfect fit. “He basically sold us the sun and the stars,” said Nancy. “He told us it was going to be able to do everything that we wanted it to and it was the perfect thing. So, you know, being very naive and just getting started, we went ahead with it.”
Nancy and the rest of the Savage Labs team signed a contract with Clover, but once they started operating, they very quickly found that it wasn’t the right fit for their restaurant. “It was just terrible,” Nancy shared. “We basically had to jump through hoops to do some simple tasks that Toast is able to accomplish in such an easy way.”
One particular use case in which Clover wasn’t meeting their needs was QR code ordering during shows. Nancy shared their experience:
“When we do our burlesque shows, we have a QR code for the guest to be able to easily order so we don’t interrupt any of the show. With Clover, we had to download and integrate another app to be able to get that done. And it was so weird how it would show up on the reports and the customer experience was terrible because they had to key in every single digit of their credit card every time. It didn’t help bring in more sales because the process was so daunting. Nobody wanted to have to do that more than once, so we weren’t getting a lot of reordering at the burlesque shows.”
So, it was time for a change. When asked what made Savage Labs consider Toast as an alternative, Nancy shared that it had a lot to do with her own experience as a diner at restaurants using Toast. “We love going out to other restaurants and seeing the innovation and what everybody else is doing,” she said. “Everywhere we went seemed to have Toast and it was such a good experience every time we checked out that we were like, ‘You know what? Let’s just try Toast,’” she said.
“Now, with Toast, we’ve almost doubled in revenue when we’re doing shows thanks to reorders,” she added. “It’s great.”
A simple switch from another point of sale to Toast
Many restaurateurs find the idea of switching point of sale platforms to be daunting. Nancy and the team at Savage Labs were no exception.
“I was nervous,” she said, “but it went smoothly.”
Nancy noted that making the switch to Toast was, “ very simple.” Thanks to the Toast team who was on-site to support, Savages Labs was up and running on Toast in no time.
“We got lucky that [the Toast team] sent over a tech to help us. For the first two nights, we had a Toast tech with us every step of the way and it went smoothly,” Nancy shared. “All of my staff were able to ask him questions and my managers got training. The system is so user-friendly, so it was very easy.”
Not only was the switch easy, but the Savage Labs team has enjoyed the convenience and reliability of the Toast support team for any unexpected hiccups along the way. “They’re always there for you. Anytime there was a small glitch or anything, they took care of it right away,” she said. “I love that we can share a screen and they can walk me through something so that I learn how to do it myself, too.”
Recommendations for other restaurant owners looking to make a switch
As Nancy mentioned, one of the biggest features for Savage Labs has been the Toast Mobile Order & Pay™ functionality for shows. However, there are several other Toast products that Savage Labs has seen success with thus far.
“I love, love, love the reporting,” Nancy shared. “That’s been a game-changer for us. You’re basically able to see every step that your staff is taking.”
For a bar, strong reporting can be helpful for so many reasons, from ensuring proper staffing and consistent recipe costing to identifying specialty drink success and adjusting hours and food offerings for peak times.
Savage Labs is also taking advantage of Toast’s handheld POS devices, the Toast Go® 2. “We mostly use handhelds, but we did just order one terminal for the bar and we have a terminal at our food truck station,” Nancy said. “Other than that, everything’s done through handhelds and it’s super easy.”
But, most importantly, Savage Labs has experienced what they called a “better user experience” since switching to Toast.
“The user experience is so much better [with Toast than it was with Clover],” said Nancy. “The menus and the way that we’re able to have everything sorted — it’s just another level. We’re super happy.”
So, what is Savage Labs’ message for other restaurant owners thinking about switching to Toast?
“100% do it. We love Toast. You have no idea how happy I am,” she said, adding, “There’s nothing bad I can say about Toast, like, at all.”
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