Ka Pao, which is the Thai word for holy basil, first opened its doors for business in Glasgow in January 2020, scooping a Michelin Bib Gourmand in February 2022. Its second site in Edinburgh followed soon after in March 2022 and has 100 covers. On a busy day it is typical for the brand to turn each restaurant approximately four to five times during service to deliver between 400-600 covers.
Bold. Exciting. Punchy. Joyful. Thrilling. Wham, bang of flavours, are all words used by both national and local restaurant critics to describe the eclectic menu delivered by the team at Ka Pao. Inspired and influenced by a passion for the food and cooking of Southeast Asia, it unites the very best of UK produce with ingredients, flavour combinations and cooking techniques gleaned from the core team’s travels and experiences working in Northern Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore, alongside the Asian influences found in modern Australian cuisine.
Popular dishes include fried chicken wings with fish sauce caramel and pickled celery; corn ribs with salted coconut, shrimp and lime; and green curry of lamb shoulder with broad beans, peas and banana chilli. Vegan options tend to veer towards the decadent, featuring salt and szechuan pepper oyster mushrooms with pickled mooli, roasted cauliflower curry with crispy potato and ajat pickle, plus hispi cabbage with cashew nut butter and sriracha.
So, how does the menu work at Ka Pao? Dishes are divided into snacks, moving onto first, second and third rounds, a sharing menu for four or more diners, culminating in desserts. Back-of-house is divided into four sections. Larder for salads, cold snacks and dressings. Grill fryer for char-grilled and fried items. Pan section for curries and a wok section for stir fries.
The business has always had technology in its sights; and were very aware that if they were to open bigger sites in the future, they would require technology. Ka Pao, Glasgow, is a good example. If they were to increase its covers from 60 to the planned 146, without doubling the team, it would need technology. Additionally, to expect the team to deliver 600 covers on a Saturday evening without causing stress, the rushing of orders and impacting staff retention, just wouldn’t be achievable and could also mean wiping 20% of its projected sales.
“To be able to time our dishes effectively without technology would be impossible," says Scoop Restaurants Group managing director Jonathan MacDonald. "The intelligent configuration of the ConnectSmart Kitchen software means it does all the timings for us. It’s been bespoked to our menu and service style, with each section specially configured to their individual requirements. So, the snacks go out first and then the first round approximately six minutes later.”
“Even with a high volume of covers, it takes control of every element of a dish - telling each chef from just a glance at the screen what to cook and when. Ultimately, what the technology is doing is seamlessly working together with us in the background to ensure dishes are created to the highest possible quality and service is both smooth and efficient, explains MacDonald.”
It was imperative to Ka Pao that any new technology could effortlessly integrate across its existing suite, which includes its EPoS, labour app and reservations system. MacDonald explains: “It’s really nice to see all our technology talking and working together. Everyone across the business has access to live data instantly, which I find incredible. We have intel on everything from average cook times per dish, ticket times, speed of service and table turns. Information is power and we now have the power to make informed business decisions based on fact.”
“Would we be without it? Most definitely not," says MacDonald.
To find out more about QSR Automations ConnectSmart Platform and how the technology can play a key role in delivering quality plates of food every time, visit QSR Automations, or call 020 3870 4571.