A year ago, Two Birds Taphouse was hopping five days a week. This Marietta, GA establishment was celebrating its fourth anniversary, and they had already expanded once because the demand was so high.
“In January 2020, we were a prosperous gathering point in our community,” says Jeff Byrd, who owns the business with his wife Rachel, their son Dan and his wife Lauren. “We were packed on Friday and Saturday, we had events and live music, and we had a big and reliable following. That continued, until we hit a brick wall.”
The proverbial brick wall was the pandemic, and the Byrd family decided to close their beloved taphouse and wood-burning pizzeria on March 15, two days before St. Patrick’s Day, which traditionally is one of their busiest days of the yar. “We had about 40 kegs of fresh, craft beer on hand, which spoiled and we had to throw away,” he says. “At this time, we thought this was a little hiccup.”
Two Birds had a modest to-go business, and the family promoted gift cards, and all of those proceeds went to pay their staff. “And then, all of the event bookings for spring and summer were canceled, and we did return all of the deposits, which was a double whammy,” Jeff says. “We had about 10 deposits, and of those, I think three or four have rebooked for this year.”
By the end of March, things were looking dire, and the Byrd family decided that they needed to do something in order to survive. That something was BentoBox, a hospitality platform.
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“We had a modest to-go business, and we knew that we had to get better at it,” Jeff says.
Two Birds was introduced to BentoBox by Lauren Byrd who not only works at Two Birds, but as a manger of the customer success team at BentoBox. “That was the solution for us to get on the other side of the pandemic,” Jeff says.
What the platform really helped them do was to allow the family-run bar and restaurant to increase their to-go business and also for them to push the sales of giftcards. “We couldn’t afford to go the route of UberEats,” Lauren says.
BentoBox, Lauren points out, helped the restaurant organize promotional campaigns and figure out different streams of revenue. “It’s a huge part of how we’ve been able to continue,” Lauren says. “BentoBox allows us to create and control our narrative, and that’s one reason we didn’t’ want to use other companies. BentoBox market on your behalf, and they direct people to your website, not theirs. It also helps us stay connected to our community.”
The taphouse began offering growlers of craft beer to go, and they’ve done some online trivia nights. “There aren’t a lot of playbooks for this stuff,” Jeff says. “We just continue to think of stuff on the fly and pivot and adapt. But BentoBox has increased our to-go orders, and it means that we can pay all of our bills and compensate our staff.”
Two Birds reopened dining in the summer, but it’s at a much reduced capacity. “On a crowded weekend, 300 to 400 covers would be pretty typical, and now it’s probably 150 to 180,” Jeff says. “November and December, we were always packed for events, and this year, we only had three or four modest events.”
But the restaurant is already booking events for Spring and Summer 2021. “BentoBox predicts that we will have a surge in demand for events,” Jeff says.
“Our event manager loves this new system from BentoBox on managing the events and the data,” says Rachel.
Before the pandemic hit, Two Birds employed 40 people. Today, 38 people are on their payroll, but they don’t have as many shifts as they used to. “We’ve been really heartened and moved by the response from people who like our business, and out of the midst of this chaos, there’s a certain kind of kindness that emerges in a community,” Jeff says.