A Family Tradition
Twenty-six years ago the Teng family opened a restaurant serving the local Richardson, Texas community dishes from Taiwan and mainland China, specializing in delicious dough items like dumplings, homemade noodles and steamed buns. Just three years ago, the restaurant outgrew its 3,000 square-foot building and relocated to a much larger 8,300-square-foot location, which includes a bakery and a café. The busy restaurant is open every day, 10 am to 10 pm, all year long.
For decades, things at Jeng Chi didn’t change. The owner and patriarch of the company, Mr. Yuan Teng, stood guard at the counter with an old-school electronic cash register (ECR) and an abacus by its side. “For decades, he ran that cash register, and sometimes used an abacus to calculate the bill,” said Janelle Teng, daughter-in-law and restaurant manager. “I playfully refer to it as a doughnut register, like the old ones you see in doughnut shops. It was basically a glorified calculator, but people loved paying him that way. I think it was fun for the customers.” But it wasn’t working for the business.
Even though the restaurant was very busy, the wait staff hand-wrote orders, in duplicate, on small order forms, tore them apart and delivered them to each chef. The customers then got the top copy, which they took to the counter to Mr. Teng and his abacus.
Trying On New Tech
When Jeng Chi moved into their new building, they purchased a point-of-sale system (POS) —a big step up from the company’s old ECR and abacus. The new system had mobile functionality, but was unable to grow with the business. From there, the restaurant realized they needed more flexibility. “That system couldn’t grow with us the way we needed it to. We wanted to expedite orders and digitally send them from the dining room to the kitchen. We needed all the modifiers, we needed ordering at the table, and the real kicker for us was flexibility of payments,” commented Janelle.
After two years, Jeng Chi migrated to Lavu iPad POS with Epson’s TM-T88V thermal receipt printers and OmniLink TM-T88V-i intelligent printers. The Lavu / Epson system provides multi-lingual functionality and enhanced features that better support their restaurant operations. Epson’s OmniLink enables web-based printing from the restaurant’s iPads, and with its built-in PC, also supports additional peripherals such as slave kitchen printers. The Epson printers print in both English and Mandarin, which minimizes errors and speeds orders through the kitchen. “And it’s great for our customers, because we have a big portion of Chinese diners. Even though most of them are multilingual, we like to give them a more authentic experience, so receipts print in Mandarin and English,” Janelle told us.
“Being a Chinese restaurant, we get a lot of big parties. They will split their checks a hundred different ways under the sun. With the Lavu system and Epson printers I can split checks and print a dozen separate receipts without batting an eye,” Janelle explained. With the first POS system, Janelle said they were limited to splitting checks just eight ways. “And let me tell you, when you’ve got a party of twelve and they want to split their check a dozen ways, you’d better have a flexible system to meet your customers’ needs. With Lavu 3.0 and Epson, the sky’s the limit. You want the dumplings split ten different ways, and everyone to pay for individual dishes? I got it.”
The wait staff uses iPads and PayPal / EMV chip readers to serve customers at the table. Before the server even leaves the table, the order is sent wirelessly to the kitchen, where one of five Epson printers prints out the order, depending on which station and which chef is preparing the dish. “I have three cooks, two steamers, a bunch of cutters and four chefs, so it can be hectic. Printing the orders out in Mandarin and English in the kitchen is huge for us,” Janelle said. The Epson printers deliver fast print speeds and best-in-class reliability, critical in high-volume kitchen environments.
When it’s time to pay, the Lavu system is programmed to suggest 15, 18 or 20 percent gratuity. “But our guests have the option to put in whatever they want. We have a very diverse customer base. My American customers love it, and they tend to use the buttons. They don’t want to do the math in their heads, but my Chinese guests tend to be a lot more conscientious, and will enter a manual amount,” Janelle said. She admits Jeng Chi runs a unique business, and must remain culturally sensitive to core Chinese patrons while continuing to appeal to new customers.
Data Drives Dollars
The Lavu system can generate reports by area of specialty, allowing Jeng Chi to see which types of foods are doing better than others. The reports also provide specifics of the sale (who’s doing the sale and when, how much is being sold by type, etc.). With this information, managers can execute incentive programs for staff. For example, Jeng Chi has a bakery with elaborate desserts. To increase sales in this category, they offer financial incentives for staff that increase their percentage of sales, as well as those who sell the most in 31 days. “One young man sold 112 pieces of dessert last month and after I gave them the challenge, the same young man sold 146 pieces in the first seven days,” Janelle noted.
Adopting the Lavu iPad POS solution with Epson printers has brought a new level of performance to Jeng Chi, on the
restaurant floor, in the kitchen and behind the entire restaurant operation. As Jeng Chi continues to serve its most popular dishes to regular customers, it’s also growing business and attracting new patrons. Using advanced technologies to serve up delicious dishes from Taiwan and Mainland China is a winning combination. It’s no wonder Jeng Chi is rolling in dough.