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Poké Me brings a modern twist to Japanese cuisine with their fun, healthy and nutritious poké bowls, sushi and infused detox water.
Guess what else? They’re an entirely cashless venue.
We had the privilege of interviewing one of their owners about what it takes to get a successful hospitality business off the ground.
Q. What inspires you daily?
A. Everywhere you look, healthy food is way too expensive, and lacks flavour. You are naturally steered towards a more cost effective solution where you’re forced to sacrifice nutrition for cost savings.
Poké Me was built on a lack of alternatives.
More and more people are preparing meals at home because they either couldn’t afford to eat healthy or there were no options close by. The prepared meal production industry is worth $600 million for a reason – because people want great food that they don’t have to think about.
These industries have grown because most consumers consider them to be healthy. Let’s think about it for a second. How are 35 frozen meals delivered to your door weekly healthy?
Poké Me came into existence to give consumers access to healthy food options that don’t break the bank. We are inspired by the fact that we are building a better future.
Q. Is there an achievement or contribution you are most proud of?
A. Our entire team is extremely proud of what we’ve created. This is a truly near untapped tier in the “fast food” vertical of hospitality.
McDonald’s was built on the concept of bringing you a burger in 30 seconds.
We are doing something very similar.
Except, instead of giving our customers a tiny cheeseburger with 302 calories, we provided a large bowl, curated to their taste – under 30 seconds and containing 250 calories.
Q. Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you?
A. Opening day stands out.
We had 50 metre lines wrapped around the corner, with barely any advertising or letting anyone know that we were launching.
It really hit home that we could not keep up with demand.
Now, we’ve worked tirelessly on our systems and preparation so that those lines are constantly moving.
It’s crucial that our systems don’t slow down because we need to provide a service that is unparalleled in the health food industry. We have invested significant amounts into building our structure in the last year that we have been trading.
Since opening, we have grown to 3 restaurants – 2 in Victoria and 1 in South Australia.
We also have a commercial kitchen centrally located in VIC where we prepare the food daily to distribute with our own refrigerated supply chain that makes daily deliveries to our restaurants.
Q. Have you learned any good lessons lately? What were they?
A. You learn everyday in any good business.
You make mistakes and as long as you only do them once, and you treat them as a way to learn, you will always be growing.
It’s important to be constantly improving, and ensure you never get too comfortable.
Q. What were some of the initial roadblocks you encountered when starting your business?
A. In any business that you care about and want to challenge giants, you come up against roadblocks regularly.
Day to day, the most common roadblock we come up against is that we simply can’t do things fast enough in the back end to benefit our customers.
We made the choice to go cashless because we saw a far superior option in PayPass where our staff weren’t handling dirty notes and coins as well as people’s food.
Going cashless has made our service faster and more efficient, alongside with providing a limited room for error.
Q. Why did you choose to run a cashless business?
A. Cashless is the way of the future, whether you’re using a card or phone for payments. Tyro has helped us make our vision of simplification, a reality.
We had used our bank’s merchant facilities prior to installing Tyro, and they were not up to scratch, or too difficult to integrate with our Point of Sale. Tyro seems to carry the same vision as we do, which is to “simplify the complicated”, for the benefit of the consumer.
Q. What is the most unique ingredient you have in your kitchen?
A. The beauty of our business is that a lot of our ingredients are quite unique to the industry we are in.
We hold the same ingredients that restaurants like Nobu have and we sell everyday food.
One of them would have to Wasabi Tobbiko (Wasabi Caviar) which is bright green caviar infused with Wasabi.
We take our food innovation division very seriously and make it our mission to ensure that our customers have access to new flavours.
Q. What is the biggest challenge of running a hospitality business?
A. It’s really hard to hone in on one particular main challenge.
It is often minor issues that build towards something that seems too hard to handle. That’s why it’s important to focus on making decisions quickly and strategically.
At the pace that businesses are moving in these days you always have to be searching for better options than the guy/girl next door.
Technology is becoming a be all, end all in the hospitality industry. This wasn’t the case a few years ago when small and medium businesses could not afford the multi million dollar legacy systems they needed to grow.
Now on the other hand, the level of access to world class technology at affordable prices means that business owners no longer can settle for the bare minimum when it comes to how they run their workflow.
Even if you think you can get away with it in the short term, you are going to have to completely overhaul your systems at some point in the near future.
Q. What would you say to someone considering opening a business like yours?
A. Never settle for second best.
Looking to change up your payments systems and find more efficiencies in your business? See how Tyro can help you offer better service.