Brothers Gino and Lenny Rago and his two brothers launched Panino’s Pizzeria in Illinois in 1999. In 2003, they partnered up with Bruno Brunetti to establish Panino’s Café & Bar in Chicago. In August 2006, Panino’s Café & Bar relocated and opened up a dining room so their customers could enjoy their extensive carry-out and delivery menu on location. Panino's menu features thin-crust pizza, pasta, panini sandwiches, barbecued ribs and fried chicken. House specialties include timpanos, a double-crust pasta-stuffed pizza and gelatos.
Owner Lenny Rago is an online ordering veteran. His foodler.com online menu had been bringing in sales for some time, but wasn’t particularly efficient: “When I would get the fax from foodler.com,” Lenny says, “I’d have to enter the order in the computer, so we were taking two steps.” Lenny saw the potential to speed up his order handling, and increase his online order volume, by integrating the Panino’s Pizzeria Web site with his SpeedLine POS system.
In the competitive Chicago area, ordering online is easy—hundreds of restaurants offer the service. “Plus, I have 2 great locations,” Lenny adds: “one near Northwestern University with a lot of college students where all they do is surf the web, and another in Chicago, right by Wrigley Field, an area that attracts mostly a younger crowd. They’re going to surf the Web too.”
By expanding online ordering, Lenny expects to save on labor, with fewer phone calls to handle, and to save more by eliminating the mistakes that can happen with phone orders.
Lenny chose Brygid Technologies to develop his online ordering site. “Brygid has been great to work with,” Lenny says. “I deal with Christopher over there. He’s awesome; whatever I want, he does.”
“The first week after we launched the site,” Lenny adds, “my Web designer at Brygid called me and said, ‘Have you taken a look at this? The first Friday we put it on you got almost 2000 hits! And on Saturday, you got 1800!’” Without any advertising yet, the site was getting considerable traffic. And then the orders started coming in. “We got 4 or 5 online orders a day in the first few days the site was live, then 8 or 10, with no advertising at all.” By the end of the first month of the site’s “soft” test launch, Panino’s had Pizzeria received 137 online orders.
“So, I mean, people click on Google, type in your restaurant name, now they’re on your Web site, Lenny says, “and they say ‘Hey, I’m right here, I might as well just order.’”
“I am getting regular customers hitting the site,” Lenny adds, “and I’m seeing new customers too. I know that because I don’t recognize either name or numbers. I’m even seeing frequent customers going to check out the website.“
Effective January 1st, Panino’s pizza boxes and menus all say, “Order Online” Lenny is also excited about the potential of his new phone system with Fidelity CallWorks. “In the first 15 seconds of each call, it tells you that you can go online and order. ‘Did you know that you can order online to PaninosPizzeria.com?’” Rather than waiting on hold, Lenny says, “I see a lot of people hanging up and going online to order.”
As added incentive, Lenny is planning a contest where customers can go to the site and enter weekly to win.
The initial site launch hit a snag when they discovered duplicate PLUs in the menu. Lenny advises having a list of all your current ingredients and their unique PLUs to pave the way for a smooth start-up. He also recommends making the site appealing and functional—with multiple links to order. And when the orders start rolling in, he says, “you have to be prepared for them.”
What does the future look like with Panino’s Pizzeria online?
“I think it will cut down on staffing,” Lenny predicts. “One of our locations does a lot of walk-ins for slices and it is really busy, so hopefully the site will alleviate a lot of phones ringing. “I think online ordering will be a significant part of our business.” With his advertising ramping up, Lenny says, “I expect to probably get 20-30 online orders a day off the site.”