Best Practices

4 Secrets to a Successful Food Hall Operation

The Golden Mill is an award-winning food hall offering amazing self-pour drinks, unmatched cuisine and the best views in Golden, CO. When they opened in early 2021, in the middle of the pandemic, people questioned their sanity. Fortunately, they found guests were really excited to get back out and see their friends and family. And with a large open space, garage doors and an expansive rooftop bar, The Golden Mill Food Hall has become a must-visit destination in the historic town.

Named Best New Food Hall 2022 by Denver’s, and Best Food Hall to Fuel Up After an Adventure by, The Golden Mill Food Hall is achieving widespread recognition for the quality of their ambience, food and drinks and overall experience.

Owner Susan Ganter, and General Manager, Marcel Templet, sat down with GoTab a few weeks ago to share some of the secrets of their success.

“The uniqueness of the experience is what draws a lot of people. It’s easy to come in and get The Golden Mill Card and access drinks on the beer wall and use it at all of the vendors. We’re quickly becoming one of those places where you come when you have friends in town, or are going out with a new group, it’s a really great experience.”

Marcel Templet, General Manager

1. Create Magical Moments

In The Golden Mill scenario, the guest experience starts at the host stand. The host associates the guest’s credit card to The Golden Mill RFID card(s). That association creates a “running tab” for their entire experience. It’s like a pass to get whatever a guest wants. They don’t have to go through an interface every time they want to order something. They just tap and go, whether it’s the beverage wall, or at any of their five different vendors. Everything shows up on a single check. GoTab can even set spending limits on individual RFID cards, or send reminders that a guest is approaching their pre-set spending limit. Guests really appreciate the itemized receipts. They can get the receipt via text, scanning a QR code, or (eventually) will also be able to scan a QR code to split the bill.

2. Address All Generations

With the higher cost of everything, consumers want more than just a meal when they invest their time and money to go out. That’s why food halls need to raise their game to create enjoyable experiences for all stages of life. The Golden Mill uses its large indoor and outdoor spaces to connect with their community. 

The versatility of their space means they have something to offer virtually everyone. They’re “winning the dog crowd” with their outdoor patio. Their rooftop bar is equipped with fire pits and heaters so they can even operate comfortably in inclement weather. They host live music and families love to drop in since their kids can safely explore the venue and purchase what they want without having to drag their parents along. And because they don’t require reservations, The Golden Mill has become the go-to destination for the locals and out-of-town visitors and have even been known to host impromptu wedding parties.

3. Break Down Business Silos

We’ve said it before, but it stands repeating: try as they might, most food halls have a crappy guest experience. It’s not that they don’t want to do better. It’s just that their restaurant technology is typically siloed with each licensee choosing their own POS system and guests having to create an order at each distinct location. 

It’s not uncommon for people working in a food hall to have to direct guests to another venue for a specific dish or cocktail. Breweries also have this problem. Many craft brewers don’t have a full kitchen on site so they contract with a food truck to provide food at their venue. They know that selling food helps them sell more beer, but their standard POS doesn’t make it easy to streamline the guest experience. Wouldn’t it be great if you could order a beer and a taco at the same time?

GoTab allows Food Halls, breweries and other entertainment venues to combine multiple orders from multiple businesses to a single check and one payment for the guest. At The Golden Mill, it’s all associated with the RFID card. For a venue without a beer wall, or a craft brewer, it can all be associated with a single QR. The point is that the guest should feel like they’re interacting with a single entity instead of having to create a unique order at each different businesses associated with the Food Hall or Brewery. 

GoTab also eliminates silos on the back end. Now the accounting team does a lot less work - eliminating all of the spreadsheets they previously needed to manage. The money goes where it needs to go, which has taken hours out of the week on accounting and reconciling things like percentages, fees, etc. the process has enabled The Golden Mill to maintain trust with their licensees. It also helped that the implementation team at GoTab set clear expectations through support, making themselves available and following through on their commitments.

Licensees also now have the information they need to project their hourly sales and what their labor needs will be, which is particularly important heading into the slower, winter months.

Best Practices for Working with Licensees

4. Empower Food Hall Staff

While you’re looking to create magical moments for guests, and break down silos for licensees, you should also be thinking about how you can make the work experience enjoyable for staff. Everyone is focused on how to keep their staff happy and food halls are no exception. Features like being able to open and close checks quickly, being able to close out all checks at the same time at the end of the night, are all super staff-friendly. It often comes down to the little things that can make or break a shift and give your staff efficiencies that save them time and let them focus on providing a great guest experience. What if you could combine roles? For example, using the GoTab KDS, the expo and the line cook can be the same person. This frees up labor and maximizes the value of the staff you have, allowing you to increase wages. At The Golden Mill, staff have a good time at work because it’s so much easier for the managers and staff to pull off a great service. The overall morale of the team has improved.

Efficient Operations Improve the Employee Experience, by A Lot

Learn more about GoTab’s solutions for Food Halls and other Multi-Vendor Operations.

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Situated “in the heart of it all, yet tranquil enough to make you feel away from it all too,” The Limelight Hotel Snowmass offers 99 hotel rooms and 11 residences, as well as footsteps-to-gondola access in winter and summer — right in the middle of Snowmass Base Village.

The Situation

Especially over the last few years, the Limelight Hotels IT team had witnessed a significant shift to contactless technology in the hospitality industry. After evaluating friction points in the guest journey, aligning with modern technology platforms in their restaurant was determined to be an effective way to offer elevated contactless dining experiences to their guests while also evolving their technology platforms to continue to support long-term company goals. Limelight Hotel partnered with GoTab to provide an enhanced on-demand dining experience on par with the brand’s reputation for exceptional guest service.

The Solution

Reducing Staff Touch Points Without Sacrificing Guest Experience

Guests are now able to begin a tab from their room or the property’s restaurant by scanning a QR code, texting a link to friends or family members on the ski slope to add in their orders, then meeting up together at the patio or lodge to enjoy their meal and après ski festivities without interruption. By streamlining tasks like inputting orders and processing payments, this eliminates friction for hotel staff and allows them to focus on delivering renowned guest service for a memorable experience. Since partnering with GoTab, Limelight Snowmass has consistently seen higher check averages and sales.

“We found the Point of Sale platforms we were looking at offered the guest and staff limited opportunities to further reduce touch points or improve the traditional restaurant experience. The GoTab platform enabled the guest to take an active role over the flow of their experience while simultaneously reducing touch points and further streamlining restaurant operations.”Nick Giglio, Manager of Hotel IT Operations, The Little Nell Hotel Group

According to the Limelight Hotels team, some of the other platforms that were evaluated were either missing some of the pieces they were looking for, had weak customer support models, or had little willingness to develop integrations to existing hotel platforms already in place. To that end, GoTab integrated with cloud-based platform, Infor. Together, GoTab and Infor are providing dynamic solutions to support central, efficient service across hotel amenities and deliver exceptional guest experiences.

“Previously, guests would call down to the restaurant to begin an order from their room or while they were out enjoying the ski slopes. Using GoTab, guests can now place orders from anywhere on the resort, giving them the on-demand service they want without interrupting their day. GoTab empowers us to give control to the guest, reducing touch points and streamlining overall restaurant operations, making Limelight Hotel the resort of choice for Snowmass.”Nick Giglio, Manager of Hotel IT Operations, The Little Nell Hotel Group

Since introducing GoTab, The Limelight Hotel has seen a consistent level of upsells and items sold per check resulting in additional revenue capture. They have been able to maintain service levels in their restaurants during periods when there was reduced staffing available without significantly diminishing the guest experience.

The Benefits

Eliminate Phone Orders – Take Orders from the Slopes. Guests can start a tab from their room or on the mountain without interrupting the flow of their day.

Future-Proofed Technologies – Delivering elevated contactless ordering via integration with the Infor hotel management platform.

Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.

  • Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.
  • Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.
  • Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.
  • Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.

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