As one of Canada’s leading restaurant and event groups, Oliver & Bonacini (O&B) is recognized for its quality food and beverage and uniquely individual properties. The group is a long-time user of Optimum Control for inventory management, finding great benefit from the solution in reducing administration time and lowering costs. Looking for further supply chain efficiencies, O&B wanted to address challenges in their ordering process from suppliers.

By introducing notch and its integration with Optimum Control to their properties, the benefits of the combined solutions have been amplified, with streamlined and centralized ordering, connected automatically to accurate, robust inventory management.

O&B’s operations team has been able to save chefs countless hours of paperwork while helping them maintain a consistent supply chain across all properties.  

About Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality

Founded in 1993 by Peter Oliver and Michael Bonacini, O&B is recognized as one of Canada’s leading restaurant and event groups. With locations in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and beyond, O&B’s diverse portfolio includes a collection of unique and innovative restaurants, event spaces, a bakery, and several strategic partnerships.

O&B credits its success to developing a strong corporate culture, where food quality and service are valued above all else. With even further expansion ahead, O&B’s food and service excellence standards remain the main focus of the company’s vision.

The Challenge

Eliminate the chef’s paperwork burden with digitized ordering and inventory reconciliation

The purchasing process is an essential part of every food service operation. Chefs and their staff need to buy the appropriate ingredients, in accurate amounts, at the right time, and at the best price.

To ensure foods stay fresh, kitchen operators must be masterful at inventory management, so quantities are used immediately or very soon after purchase.

But the daily purchasing and inventory management of food supplies can represent administrative issues for even the most organized and efficient restaurant operation.

For many years, O&B has turned to food and beverage inventory management solution provider Optimum Control to help its chefs and properties stay on top of their food and ingredient supplies. Using Optimum Control, O&B chefs are able to enter their inventory and invoices, connect that information to their point of sale (POS) and accounting platform, and manage their supplier history while pinpointing areas for cost savings.

Eric Schrank, Manager of Business Operations for O&B, oversees inventory and ordering systems for the company. He describes how chefs across the organization use the software. “All inventory flows through Optimum Control on its journey through O&B. It starts at the beginning of each month when we enter in all items that are purchased line by line. And we continue that process throughout the month until we close out inventory. Our chefs also use the software to cost recipes, including final plate and yielded batch. The software presents us with an ideal usage, so at the end of the month we can look back and say, ‘How far off were we based on what we purchased. What should we have? What do we have? Did we miss something? Did we miss an invoice? Being able to drill into those little fine details means if there is an issue, we can find it, correct it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

O&B is a unique company in the food service industry in that it doesn’t replicate concepts. While there are some enterprises that centralize menus and inventory and push that standard out to their chefs, each menu in an O&B restaurant and event venue is built in store, with unique concepts, chef features, and unique suppliers. As a result, the company has 60+ unique suppliers and regularly purchases from independent vendors, representing far more supply chain complexity than the average restaurant brand.

However, getting a handle on one’s inventory and suppliers is only half of the supply chain battle. For O&B, the ordering and purchasing process was distinct to every chef/venue, and required chefs to spend time doing paperwork in the office versus leading their teams on the front line. “The last thing a chef wants to be doing after a busy day on the line is paperwork,” says Eric.

“Typically sous chefs and upper management within our stores are the folks that do the ordering, and everyone had their own way of engaging with suppliers. Some send an email, or phone. Or they might text a supplier and have things delivered. That’s happening daily and if you have a run on ingredients like seafood or steak then a chef might be ordering several times a day,” explains Eric.

“We were lacking that important paper trail and accountability.”

The Solution

Integration between ordering and inventory – a major selling point

Eric learned that one of O&B’s partners recently trialed a simplified version of notch’s food and beverage supply chain solution for order consolidation. The fact that notch had a working integration with Optimum Control was a major selling point for Eric and his team.

“When I say we order every day, I mean we order every day,” says Eric. “So if there’s something my team and I can do to get our talented people out of the office and onto the line so they can be with their teams, then we have to look at it.”

In addition to the Optimum Control integration, the team at notch was very responsive to O&B’s needs, and were able to adjust and expand the program based on feedback. “Working with the notch team has been amazing. They are attentive, and are excited to work together to create the best solutions for our industry.”

How notch and Optimum Control work together

Using a combination of notch and Optimum Control, O&B can centralize orders, while automating the inventory reconciliation process.  

Streamlining procurement, O&B sends purchase orders (POs) to the supplier and once chefs verify the order is received at the correct amounts, those POs convert into digital invoices in notch. From there, invoices flow from notch into Optimum Control updating inventory levels automatically. Automated workflows and fewer errors in inventory mean less work for Eric and his small team.

Photo source: Canoe Restaurant

The Results

Significant labour savings

“notch and Optimum Control give us a vision over all our supply chain. My team can go into every single restaurant and see what everyone’s ordered. If they didn’t place the order through notch, then they didn’t place the order,” says Eric.

Chefs like the solution and find it easy to use. Instead of asking chefs to turn in their invoices at the end of the month, Eric and his team just have them scan the paperwork and the two solutions stay perfectly in sync.

Based on the labour savings alone, we should see a significant advantage,” says Eric. “It can mean a sous chef is out of the office and on the line, and it saves them time at the end of day. It’s so much easier to use notch and Optimum Control than to watch a pile of invoices grow. They’ve all been very happy, so we’re happy.”

Photo source: Liberty Commons at Big Rock Brewery

“Based on labour savings alone, we should see a significant advantage. It can mean a sous chef is out of the office and on the line, and it saves them time at the end of the day.”

– Eric Schrank, Manager of Business Operations for Oliver & Bonacini