Birdcall, a new chicken-sandwich concept that launched in Denver earlier this month, aims to reinvent fast food by eliminating most of the front of the house.
Instead of the typical staff of about six front-of-house workers, 1,300-square-foot Birdcall will have only one employee who serves as a greeter, offers help with the kiosks and delivers hospitality, according to Peter Newlin, a partner in the concept with former fine-dining chef Jean-Philippe Failyau, who has worked with top Denver chefs like Frank Bonanno and Alex Seidel.
“As the industry becomes more challenging, the question becomes, ‘Do you want to decrease quality or increase price?’ With Birdcall, we are going to do the opposite by increasing quality and decreasing prices,” Newlin said. “It is about providing sustainable jobs in a way that allows quality and all-natural ingredients to be more available at an affordable price.”
Birdcall is one of a growing number of limited-service concepts working to improve speed and efficiency with human-free ordering. Chains like Eatsa and Honeygrow, for example, are built around self-ordering systems via kiosk or smartphone.
Birdcall offer breakfast, lunch and dinner with a range of crispy or grilled chicken sandwiches, burgers, salads, fries and shakes. Guests order and pay at custom-designed kiosks.
Inside, the guest’s name appears on a screen to let them know when their meal will be ready. The guest is directed by text to a pick-up area.
Customers can dine in or take out. Beer, wine, robotically fresh-pressed juices and locally roasted coffees are also available.
The average check is under $10, with breakfast sandwiches starting at about $3.50 and chicken sandwiches at about $5.75, Newlin said.
“There’s no tip,” he said. “You’re in and out in about 10 minutes, and everything’s cooked to order.”
Birdcall’s software was designed internally, and tech enhancements extend to the kitchen display system, giving the restaurant more control over the entire experience, Newlin said. He noted that he wanted a user interface that even his mother could figure out.
“The software out there didn’t have the user interface we were hoping for,” Newlin said. “We learned we needed to build it ourselves if we wanted it to be easy and unique.”
In a few months, Birdcall will launch a mobile app to allow customers to order and pay ahead.
Two more locations are planned this year in the Denver area, including one with a drive-thru.
Down the road, Birdcall hopes to franchise, Newlin said.
Birdcall is operated by Failyau Management Inc., which also operates full-service restaurants, including four locations of Park Burger, and sister brands Park & Co., and Homegrown Tap & Dough. Park Burger has two franchised locations in the Middle East.
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