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Seamless Service & Supercharged Operations: Elha Foods' Success Story with Fresh KDS and Square


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About Elha Foods Inc

Elha Foods Inc. has a number of acclaimed restaurants under its belt, some of which include Jalapeños, Don Taco, and, most recently, Brava Burger. The parent company recognized the limitations of a paper ticketing system back in 2015, and once they made the digital change, they never looked back.

To understand the impact of this transition, we spoke with General Manager Erick Hernandez, who shared how integrating Fresh KDS with Square and tailoring the screen setup has proven to be highly advantageous for Elha Foods' portfolio of brands.

“We were able to speed up the process of the food coming out to a table by integrating and making everything digital.”
Erick Hernandez – General Manager
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A Slow Start

Elha Foods previously relied on a conventional MicroTouch system along with paper tickets. This involved the staff taking orders by hand, transferring them into a computer system, and then printing them for the kitchen. However, this method caused several problems and delays for the business.

The fast-paced and sometimes chaotic nature of the kitchen often led to paper tickets frequently getting lost or damaged. The paper-based system required staff to differentiate between in-house and carry-out orders, as well as keep track of preparation and cooking times when serving multiple courses. Additionally, constantly sourcing printer supplies proved to be a cumbersome and expensive task. Overall, it was an outdated process that consumed time, hindered efficiency, and needed to be changed. 

Gaining Speed with Fresh KDS and Square

Implementing a digital system required a unique approach for each of Elha Foods' restaurants. But despite the varied setups, the impact was the same – faster, better service.

“It was very seamless to move from printing tickets to screens, and they [staff] actually prefer it better.”
Erick Hernandez – General Manager

Square POS allowed servers to take and enter orders at the table, which would then immediately appear on the Fresh KDS display screens. This approach made it simple for the kitchen staff to see the orders and keep track of completed items and ticket times. Plus, with Fresh KDS, Elha Foods had the ability to customize the digital setup by using more or less kitchen display screens at its various brands.

A Recipe For Success

At Jalapeños Mexican Restaurant, the managing company made the strategic decision to separate its dine-in and take-out operations for enhanced efficiency. To facilitate this, each operation is run on its own Square location equipped with dedicated Fresh KDS tablets. The system is configured with two tablets per operation – one for the servers to manage orders and the other for the kitchen staff to view incoming tickets. The same setup of two screens is applied to handle to-go orders as well. This separation allows the brand to optimize its timing and also helps streamline the financial aspects of processing transactions.

“It has sped up a lot of the process. For instance, on Cinco de Mayo this year, having fully integrated and converted to Square and Fresh KDS, our longest wait time was maybe 45 minutes.” – a significant improvement compared to the previous wait times of two and a half hours. 
Erick Hernandez – General Manager

Erick also discussed how Don Taco, another brand under Elha Foods, adopts a slightly varied digital setup at its location. In this case, all orders come in on a single system, and the restaurant employs multiple screens along with the Fresh KDS Routing feature to direct specific items from the Square POS to designated tablets. 

By utilizing three tablets, strategically positioned in the kitchen, packing station, and counter, they effectively minimize wasted screen space and only display relevant items to each respective workstation. This approach enhances efficiency and ensures that the appropriate tasks are highlighted for each area of operation.

The Path To New Beginnings

Leveraging Fresh KDS with Square has significantly increased the speed of service across all of Elha Foods' brands. Erick highlighted how servers seamlessly adapted to the new digital system, enabling them to provide faster service to customers. As a result, even on the carry-out side, customers have taken notice of the improved efficiency and overall experience.

Looking back on the difference between using paper tickets and a digital system, Erick described the contrast as feeling decades apart – like a gap of 30-40 years! A game-changing transformation; one that this General Manager cannot understand why any restaurant would choose to overlook. 

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