Feel like a ‘BBQ steak burger’ with homemade burger sauce, iceberg lettuce, onion and tomato? Or how about ‘pulled pork’ on crunchy red cabbage with BBQ sauce and aioli? Or maybe an ‘Arabian burger’ with homemade hummus, dates and a paprika and tahini sauce? At the Blattgold, fans of American food will find their favourite classic dishes – burgers of course, plus sandwiches, cupcakes and cakes – served with a special touch. The menu even includes root beer, the American soft drink. What makes Café Blattgold different is that all the food and drinks on the menu are vegan. But the dishes share the names of their meat-based counterparts. ‘It’s important to me to use catchy names as a way of lowering the barriers to the vegan world. We want to make veganism accessible and to show people that vegan food can be absolutely delicious,’ says Vincent Töpsch, who runs the Blattgold.
From market stall to 40-seat café
The Blattgold started out as a market stall for vegan cakes and cupcakes. The little cakes with their seductively colourful creamy toppings and the fruity cakes were soon so popular with shoppers that Töpsch decided there was more to the business than a food truck at the weekly market. And so, in 2014, he opened Kiel’s first completely vegan café serving American-style food. What makes a good burger? Vincent Töpsch spent 2 years working on the vegan answer to this question and business has been booming ever since. Then, 3 years later, he expanded the café to the 40-seat space it occupies today. ‘We are extremely proud that more and more meat eaters are coming to our café now, and they love our burgers,’ says Töpsch.
Simply book by phone
The committed vegan had already built a website for his café using a modular system. ‘But it was so cumbersome to maintain. And expensive. I got to the point where I didn’t want to spend hours working on our website every month.’ So the offer from METRO subsidiary Hospitality Digital couldn’t have come at a better time. DISH combines a website solution with a booking engine and a shop system – and Töpsch was instantly impressed by the digital restaurant tool. ‘The Blattgold has a lot of regulars. They prefer to reserve a table by smartphone when they want to come into the café to eat. So a good website and a booking tool were really important for us. The new website is easy to maintain and customers can quickly find what they need.’ Everything was going brilliantly. And then the pandemic struck.
‘We already had a few regular to-go orders, but most of them were phoned in. When lockdown happened, we had to set up something more professional fast. The online shop enabled us to get a takeaway service up and running within a week and keep the revenue coming in.’ Customers simply clicked their orders together on their phones. Extra cheese, no onion, sweet potato chips with 2 dips – the professional online shop made everything simple. ‘And there were far fewer mistakes compared to the orders that came in by phone.’
I have a fixed price so I can budget, and we save several hundred euros a month.Vincent Töpsch, Blattgold
‘This system puts us in a great position’
Fans of US-style vegan dishes are delighted to be back in the café, but the takeaway trade is still going strong. That’s a good thing because the Blattgold now has everything it needs, from IT to sustainable cardboard tableware. The employees are now used to running both sides of the business in parallel: confirming orders, entering them in the cash register, checking collection times to make sure the orders don’t all have to go out at the same time, while of course serving the customers in the café. None of this would have been possible without the digital assistants. Today, 90% of orders come in online. And customers can even pay using PayPal. ‘For the café, the digital solutions are not only a major step up in quality, but are also less expensive than the previous ones. I have a fixed price so I can budget, and we save several hundred euros a month. The system is now bedded in and we are in a great position.’