I visited an impressive upcoming chain in Utrecht, the Netherlands called "da Portare Via" which translates to "take away" in Italian. In the Netherlands, Italian style pizza is still regarded as the ultimate sought after pizza style but American models dominant when it comes to running a business.
Below find 3 ways da Portare Via excels in efficiency.
1. Keeping the pizzeria open for breakfast, lunch and dinner
I first heard John Arena of Metro Pizza propose the idea of keeping a pizzeria open all day. Arena has mastered the art of baking so he manages to maximize the use of his kitchen and space to make baked goods for morning customers. Da Portare Via offers eggs baked in the oven for breakfast as well as the classical Dutch breakfast of yogurt and muesli. At any time of the day customers are drawn in to the store with "ESPRESSO 1 EURO" written largely on their store front window.
2. Going cashless
The first cashless restaurant I ever saw was Brewers Beer Bar in Gothenburg, Sweden. I posted about it in the Think Tank and got mixed responses.
"Until it 'costs' more to accept cash then CC's i will continue to keep taking cash," stated d9phoenix.
At Da Portare Via it didn't bother them charging a 1 euro expresso through their credit card machine. In fact debit cards (PIN) are much more prevalent in the Netherlands than credit cards. SOME people don't even have credit cards - by choice. On top of that, all the public transport in Utrecht has officially gone cashless where you can pay by text message or with your transport card but not with actual money!
But it's not all doom and gloom and financial apocalypse. There are certainly advantages to only taking cards including less risk of theft and a clear paper trail. In the Netherlands and most of Europe (and gosh, nearly every other country I've traveled to), paying by card means that the waiter will come to your table with an electronic device to charge your card in front of you. The U.S. is the only place, with few exceptions, where it's standard practice for waiters to take your credit card out of eye sight from the customer, doing this multiple times per day. Now when I visit the U.S. I feel nervous when the server takes my card away.
3. Serving dessert in to-go containers
Aren't you tired of customers ordering dessert and then wanting to take the rest to go? It makes you angry doesn't it? Just kidding. The Netherlands has never been much of a "to go box" type culture. Most places in Europe will tell you that "doggy bags" are an American thang and we just need to get over it and clear our plates.
But times are a' changing in the lowlands, where restaurant owners are taking note that customers appreciate being able to take their left over food home. Either that or Da Portare Via serves their desserts in to-go containers as a not-so-subtle way of encouraging customers to move along, as if the name of the pizzeria weren't obvious enough.
Though their concept is largely based on efficiency, Da Portare Via does a great job not making it feel that way. Dining in is a great experience with a super light and delicious wood-fired pizza in a cozy hand-crafted atmosphere. For the Dutch, efficiency is just a way of life, no need to be sterile about it.
Here's a couple more ways da Portare Via goes above and beyond to make their customers feel welcome in their store.
|Kid-sized pizzas get fun cartoon designs on them. Adults get a branded box.|
|Light crispy crust, closer to a New York style than Italian. But that didn't come from ME.|
|Live basil plants sit at the window between the customers and the kitchen.|
|Personalized artwork hangs in the bathroom|
|Fresh cut flowers on the table|
|Heerlijk! Which means "delicious!" one of the first words I learned in Dutch.|
|Hand-written and hand drawn menus are nice.|
|Pink bandanas for everyone takes the cuteness level up several notches.|
|My husband and I are moving to Utrecht in August where we will get to have many more escapades |
to come at da Portare Via. Can't wait!