Tarka Indian Kitchen is a fast-casual restaurant with locations throughout Texas, with expansion to other states on the horizon. All meals are priced under $10 and prepared fresh to order onsite using high quality ingredients.
The menu includes savory dishes like korma, a rich cashew almond pistachio cream sauce with garlic naan, as well as more health-conscious dishes like Beyond Keema Curry, a minced meat curry made with Beyond Meat.
The CEO and Co-founder of Tarka, Tinku Saini, shares insights with the co-hosts of the Revel Systems® podcast—Restaurant and Retail Revel(ations)—into the importance of a strong technical foundation and interoperability within your tech stack.
Technology plays a greater role in hospitality than ever. And because there are so many varied tech solutions a restaurant operator can implement, it’s essential that these disparate solutions work compatibly together.
“Any new technology we bring into the company must be compatible with the foundation of our tech stack, which is Revel,” states Tinku. “That way it doesn’t require as much attention and hands-on interaction from staff, and provides a better user experience.”
Integration with Revel means that tasks are easily automated, branding is applied automatically and data is collected and funneled into a single, easy-to-use database.
Tinku continues, “Many times I see companies use too many integrations or APIs. This can slow down their processes. We are able to move quickly because we built our digital tech stack on the foundation of Revel.”
Tarka restaurants use many of Revel’s offered integrations to fine tune business insights and collect rich data without slowing down operations. Some examples are explored below.
Just before 2020, Tarka’s leadership team decided to invest in a new loyalty program. Their original rewards program, the VIP Email Club, sent manual emails as a “blunt marketing instrument.” It offered no customized messaging nor segmentation and merely sent patrons generic promotional information. This program grew only to about 10K members.
For the new rewards program, Tinku was looking for a partner who could integrate easily into the foundation of the company’s current tech stack, the Revel Systems POS platform. This integration would allow for automated and action-triggered messaging to patrons, freeing up valuable time and energy for marketing staff to focus on strategy.
Tinku was also looking for a marketing platform that could send customized and segmented messages. Location-targeted messaging was especially important since different sites offered different promotions.
Loyalty integration Como ended up being just the partner Tinku sought. In just 15 months, Como helped the Tarka team grow their rewards program to five times what it had been the past decade. The personalization capabilities of Como paired with Revel’s platform is “so far beyond what we used to use” according to Tinku.
Not only can Tarka send personalized messages based on customer demographics, but the restaurant’s loyalty program can also send tailored promotional offers depending on how frequently individual patrons visit and which locations they frequent.
For example, if a customer hasn’t purchased from the restaurant in 30 days, Como’s integration sends them a win-back message automatically. The app also provides joining incentives and birthday gifts automatically.
Como and its subsequent integration within Revel’s platform was a key driver of the restaurant’s success throughout the pandemic.
“Thank God we integrated Como with Revel before COVID hit,” says Tinku. “With the technology, we could let customers know we were still open for takeout and delivery when restrictions started. Business could have been slow at the start of COVID but we used targeted marketing to shoot customers takeout and delivery promotions the first six weeks of the pandemic. We could automatically communicate when our dinning reopened and share our safety protocols in detail.”
Another major opportunity further highlighted by pandemic conditions was the importance of online branding for the restaurant.
“Be prepared to meet your guests wherever and however they want to interact with you,” says Tinku. “Whether they want to order digitally, use a mobile app or curbside, you have to be willing to have the processes and systems in place so they can order how they want. The key though is integration with Revel and having a seamless customer experience.”
Like with many restaurants, COVID accelerated Tarka’s already existing digital-first approach. Since 2020 the company has notably revamped their online ordering system.
Tinku wanted to make sure the Tarka brand remained the focus of customer interactions online and offline. He aimed to emulate the in-store experience on his website and app as much as possible.
“We want customer touch points, including exposure to marketing materials, to be the same whether patrons are coming in to order or ordering online,” says Tinku.
A key way to maintain their branding off-site was through the company’s mobile app and curbside technology platform. Again, it was important that new technologies were interoperable with Revel and other core technologies within the company.
“A lot of other restaurants ask to-go customers to call them when they arrive at the restaurant. But we want our pickup experience to be more seamless than that,” says Tinku.
He continues, “Our operations are so fine tuned that before the customer even parks, our employees know they’re there and are already starting to bring their food out."
Especially as the brand was testing new solutions and offerings, customer feedback was non-negotiable. To accurately capture customer input, Tarka integrated customer feedback software with Revel. This platform, Tattle, allowed Tinku to collect enough data to prioritize executive interventions.
“From the customer feedback data collected through Tattle and Revel I could figure out which problems were one-off occurrences and which were systemic issues that needed to be addressed right away.”
Recently Tarka opened their first in-store kiosk in a Houston location. Like all other technologies, the kiosk is a Revel solution that collects and sends important information about the brand’s integrated rewards program.
In a single Sunday, 20% of all orders came through the kiosk, underscoring the value of an omnichannel and tech-forward approach to the customer experience.
Tarka uses immense amounts of detailed information from the Revel platform to inform executive strategy.
Integrated softwares with Revel allows for brandability at all digital touch points, a seamless customer experience and full integration into the foundation of business data.
Examples of ways Revel integrates with other technologies to store and communicate data and branding include:
To learn more about how Revel could help your restaurant, schedule a demo today.