[Case Study] 1894 Lodge

[Case Study] 1894 Lodge
AJ Beltis

By AJ Beltis

The 1894 Lodge, a culinary and communal staple in rural New Washington, Indiana, places a special emphasis on its history. The restaurant is located in a 200-year-old building–the first building in town, which in its past has been a Masonic lodge, a school, and a movie theater.

Now, the building is the home of The 1894 Lodge, a bar and restaurant with a unique, chef-driven menu loaded with comfort food. The restaurant brings in local patrons–in addition to those from the neighboring state of Kentucky.

In the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic, The 1894 Lodge once again embraced its history of change, adaptability, and evolution to thrive under the circumstances, and relied on its partnership with 7shifts to help keep its team aligned and business afloat.

Adapting During a Crisis

“Leading up to the shutdown, I was anticipating there was something that was going to happen,” explained Logan Hostettler, General Manager of The 1894 Lodge. However, Logan insisted on keeping the restaurant operating to serve his loyal patrons and keep his staff (safely) working. “We stayed open the entire time,” he said, but he needed to pivot his restaurant’s offerings to respond to the demand of takeout.

“Our menu is very chef-driven, so trying to get a medium rare steak in a to-go box when you’re 30 or 45 minutes away is not gonna happen. So we took the same principles of being a chef-driven menu, fresh, and local, and applied it to a sandwich menu. Our sandwiches turned into some pretty badass sandwiches.”

Throughout this transition, Logan credits his staff for helping to keep things productive and adapting to a new menu, a new operating model, and a new normal in the world at large.

“My staff was great,” he said. “They stayed together.”

Once his restaurant was allowed to reopen for dine-in service, Logan took necessary precautions to ensure his staff’s, customers’, and community’s health and safety.

“Once we started to open up a little bit, we really emphasized how we take care of our employees and how we take care of our building as far as a cleaning aspect. And I think people really trusted that, and they really believed that we were doing the right thing, and they felt safe here. So as we started to open up, this is the busiest we’ve ever been–even at 50-75% capacity, it’s been crazy.”

Sales from July 2019 to July 2020 for The 1894 Lodge

To ensure he delivered on the safety standards he set for his restaurant and guests, Logan utilized 7shifts to make his staff aware of the required steps they needed to take before coming to work.

“I started working with 7shifts about having a hygiene checklist,” he explained. “Before they can punch in, my staff has to go through the app and check everything off [the Employee Health Check], and it sends the notification to me. I was able to create that, and keep up with symptoms.”

With the 7punches time clocking software in 7shifts, Logan was able to utilize the app’s built-in Employee Health Check. This feature allows admins to create a custom checklist from a preset bank of questions to determine whether or not an employee has symptoms that could put the restaurant’s staff and patrons at risk. If employees do not pass the health check, they will be unable to clock in, and managers will receive an SMS notification of the employee’s inability to work. This feature allows restaurateurs like Logan to ensure staff are feeling healthy before coming onto the restaurant’s premise.

Logan also leveraged 7shifts’ other core features during the pandemic to strengthen his working relationship with his team. For example, through 7shifts, Logan sourced feedback about his staff members’ thoughts during the pandemic–both personally and professionally–for frequent physical and mental health checks.

“You give them a platform and you empower your people. It’s crazy what you’ll get out of it. I think they found out a lot about themselves as well through this.”

While The 1894 Lodge did see a decline in sales during the height of COVID-19, the insights they accessed through 7shifts have helped them recover healthily. Their June 2020 sales ended up surpassing their February sales–even during a time when the restaurant industry as a whole is trying to find its footing in a world of recovery.

Sales for The 1894 Lodge from January to July 2020

Logan explained that 7shifts “helped me out so much–from being able to schedule, change scheduling, asking for days off...it was great. And helping me see my labor percentages and costs in real time was phenomenal during that, and even if we slow down. I’ll always keep 7shfits because it helped me through probably one of the craziest transitions of the hospitality/service industry that there ever has been.

Why The 1894 Lodge Chose 7shifts

The 1894 Lodge had other options for its employee scheduling software, but after learning about 7shifts’ cost-efficiency, communications tools, and integration with Toast POS, it was clear that 7shifts was the right solution for the restaurant.

A Simple, Cost-Effective Solution to Scheduling

The 1894 Lodge has been using 7shifts since May 2019–well before the COVID-19 pandemic. Before 7shifts, scheduling wasn’t exactly Logan’s favorite task of the week.

“It was a nightmare,” he recounted. “I tried to do spreadsheets. I tried to do text messages. I tried to give it to one of my managers for scheduling. For the labor cost and percentage, it never added up right because of the sales, or because something wouldn’t transfer.”

After years of struggling, Logan came to the conclusion that “there’s got to be an easier way.” That’s when he learned about 7shifts.

“I just started researching different [solutions], and [7shifts was] the most cost effective,” said Logan.
7shifts makes creating a schedule and drawing insights from a schedule simple. With features like drag-and-drop shift assignments and simple schedule building, managers can build a schedule with little effort–all while taking staff needs and availability into consideration.

End-to-End Communication

During preliminary conversations with 7shifts, Logan noted 7shifts’ emphasis on support and communication. “Support, to me, was very important,” he explained. “Whenever I called in, and started the process, questions were being answered rather efficiently.”

Once Logan and his team started using 7shifts, they immediately discovered its worth.

“My employees were able to pick up on how to use it quickly,” he said, explaining that during the staff training process, “they got an email [or] they got a text message, [and] they were able to go into it, click it, and it worked out great.” Employees who use 7shifts for scheduling get their own accounts associated with the restaurant to review schedules, submit time off requests, and request shift swaps to keep all scheduling-related inquiries in one place for managers.

This streamlined communication has resulted in tangible benefits for The 1894 Lodge’s bottom line, helping Logan budget better and plan out scheduling adjustments.

“It helps me budget,” he said. “If I know somebody is wanting more hours, and somebody’s got a little vacation time coming up, I don’t even have to talk to them. I can just set it up, send it, and they get a notification.” With the manager approval-based shift-swapping feature in 7shifts, restaurateurs like Logan can simplify schedule changes like these with the touch of a button in a matter of seconds.

A Powerful Integration With Toast POS

The 1894 Lodge has also benefited from 7shifts’ integration with restaurant POS system Toast, allowing Logan to align his scheduling directly with sales data.

“I put in the weather, and the date, and the time, and when we got busy, and what the special was, and if it was a bad night,” he explained. “It takes all that into consideration, and I think that’s really cool that I can go back last year and read those notes if we have an event or whatnot to look at, and that’s important to me. It’s just really easy to see.”

One of the most valuable features of the integration for Logan is getting more granular with his labor cost percentages.

“If I want to target a labor cost of 10% or 15%, and I’m at 18%, I can go through and tweak hours based on sales. At the end of that date, if sales are up, then I can allot those hours back to stay under for the entire week, so it helps me in that part of it.”

A Forward-Thinking, Helpful Brand

Outside of healthier labor targets for his restaurant, Logan appreciated the idea of partnering with a forward-thinking brand like 7shifts. “Whenever I brand The Lodge, I want new, sleek, modern – and that’s what I get with 7shifts. You’re ever-evolving your brand, and your customer base is growing,” he said. “That’s what I liked about you guys, is that it wasn’t stale.”

7shifts provides more than a scheduling solution. The company helps existing customers succeed with a support center, educates all members of the restaurant community with a blog and restaurant data homepage, and maintains a COVID resources hub to help restaurants navigate the public health crisis.

The 1894 Lodge’s Tips for Staying Ahead

Logan’s advice to restaurateurs struggling during COVID-19: “Be ahead of the game.”

“Don't be reactive–be very proactive,” he instructed. “Even if it doesn't turn out the way that you think it should, be proactive in what you're trying to do, because your plan will always evolve. If you don't have a plan, then you're just going to do something off the cuff, and that's going to hurt more than anything–especially when perception is reality in this industry right now.”

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AJ Beltis
AJ Beltis

AJ Beltis is a freelance writer with almost a decade of experience in the restaurant industry. He currently works as a content manager at HubSpot, and previously as a blogger at Toast.