Case study: Smokey Bones scales virtual concept overnight with Omnivore
Virtual kitchen, virtual concept & virtual brand are buzzwords in the restaurant industry for good reason: they offer the opportunity to increase revenue and gain new customers. The catch? Minimizing overhead and easily managing the many delivery service providers (DSPs) for increased discovery.
Launching the first virtual concept
For Smokey Bones, a virtual concept was an opportunity to increase revenue for the 61-unit restaurant chain. Smokey Bones is best known for its ribs and barbecue, but its chicken wings are very popular. However, the Smokey Bones brand did not rank high across delivery service providers for ‘chicken wing’ keyword searches. Its quality food needed a strong standalone brand and consumer-friendly ordering options to shine.
To capture more DSP searches, it created a chicken wing-focused virtual concept called The Wing Experience. Smokey Bones first launched The Wing Experience on Uber Eats in September 2019 in pilot locations.
It was the first major restaurant chain in the U.S. to launch a virtual brand on Uber Eats.
Initially, Smokey Bones piloted The Wing Experience virtual brand to 15 locations offered only on Uber Eats. Despite the limited footprint, Smokey Bones saw proof of its concept through increased order volume and positive guest sentiment.
Building a virtual brand
In mid-2020, Smokey Bones saw an opportunity to do more than survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Its new focus on delivery was a match for the mandated limitations to on-premises dining and increased consumer preference for takeout and delivery.
Smokey Bones was ready to put a greater emphasis on building the virtual concept. It was time to move The Wing Experience from the pilot phase to a full-scale deployment across all of its 61 locations and multiple delivery service providers.
To unlock this expansion, it needed a partner to remove the operational bottlenecks inherent with operating multiple delivery service providers.
Smokey Bones required a partner to establish a coherent digital menu, remove inefficient operational tablets and directly inject orders into the POS system to fully maximize the sales opportunities that virtual brands can provide.
“With Omnivore, we launched a fully integrated platform across multiple DSPs and our eCommerce website overnight,” said Brian Wallunas, Chief Digital & Technology Officer for Smokey Bones.
Smokey Bones brought in restaurant technology company Omnivore to scale The Wing Experience. Omnivore worked with Smokey Bones to build a single POS-integrated master menu across Uber Eats, Door Dash and its direct-to-consumer ordering website, using its Menu Management System (MMS).
Orders from any digital platform are directly injected into the POS system thereby, eliminating the need for tablets, minimizing errors and reducing labor costs.