After 10 years as the director of a non-profit, Mary McKnabb found herself asking, “What’s next?” So she bought a restaurant. Two years after taking over Inga’s Alpine Tavern in Denver, CO, she’s buying out her business partners and this time, she knows exactly what’s next.
Bar poker on Mondays, karaoke on Saturdays, live music every Friday and Saturday: just like its owner, Mary McKnabb, Inga’s Alpine Tavern in Denver, CO, always has something going on. After working for a local Catholic school non-profit for over 13 years, ten of which she spent as the organization’s director, McKnabb was ready for a change when her son graduated from the school. Never mind that she was already running a small cleaning business: she was looking for more.
That’s when she and two business partners came up with the idea of a restaurant. They settled on buying Inga’s Alpine Tavern, a local restaurant that had been around for six years, right by McKnabb’s house. After a turnkey transaction (the restaurant closed for just one day during the change in ownership), the new business partners were off to the races. That meant using exactly what equipment and processes the previous owners had in place, including their POS system.
McKnabb realized quickly that the status quo wasn’t good enough. The old restaurant POS system was painfully slow and could only be operated out of their back office. Even worse, when the old system went down, the restaurant had to pay an IT group several hundred dollars to get the POS back up and running. The system would be down for four or five hours, setting the restaurant back $200-$300 in IT fees each time. McKnabb estimates they’d lose about $500 in revenue on top of that with every outage. Clearly things would have to change.
It was right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit that an opportunity to upgrade operations presented itself. During a trip to a restaurant supply store, one of the business partners was introduced to Clover. Sold on the POS system, he encouraged the other partners to take a meeting with a Clover rep. McKnabb says after hearing everything the rep presented, they were sold. For McKnabb, it couldn’t have been a more welcome addition to their business. “We love Clover,” she says “It’s night and day–it’s a hundred times better, it’s way more efficient” than their previous POS system. “The orders get back to the kitchen quicker and [my staff is] handling guests 100% faster.” Her team now uses a Clover Station Solo paired with several Clover Flex devices, which they find handy to close out bills and turn tables quickly during busy periods.
As the challenges of operating a restaurant during the pandemic grew, McKnabb was grateful that she’d been an early adopter of third-party ordering and delivery services such as DoorDash as they quickly became a staple of the “new normal” for restaurants and customers alike.
McKnabb even found a silver lining in the customizations that she frequently found in the orders: the potential for extra revenue. Thanks to Clover, it was easier than ever to add items to the menu when she discovered there was customer demand for them. Says McKnabb: “We do it immediately and it’s a way to generate that little extra revenue real-time when it’s on your mind, because time is always an issue when you’re operating a restaurant.”
Clover has not only helped create a more efficient guest experience but also streamlined McKnabb’s managerial tasks. “Reporting is way easier,” she says. “It’s just a better way to track your dollars.” Clover Reporting helps her stay on top of metrics and track food costs and waste.
Now on the other side of the pandemic and poised to buy out her two business partners, McKnabb is excited about what’s next for Inga’s Alpine Tavern. As the sole business owner, she’s looking forward to having full autonomy over operational decisions. First up? Using her Clover restaurant POS to optimize her food cost reporting. She’s also excited to revamp the menu and expand the hours strategically. “Clover can help with inventory, food, and liquor costs,” she adds. All of that could help boost her bottom line and streamline operations, which any busy restaurateur can appreciate.
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