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Birdcall CEO Mark Lohmann said that he was drawn to the position in large part because of the company’s industry leading proprietary tech stack.

New Birdcall CEO Mark Lohmann on why the chicken brand’s proprietary POS system is an advantage

The 10-unit, Denver, Colo.-based brand has its own vertically integrated tech platform

One of the biggest challenges most emerging operators face these days is how to build their tech stack. A restaurant’s tech stack needs to be simple and efficient enough to operate easily but it also needs to have enough bells and whistles to be able to tackle digital conundrums and customer/employee needs. You could always attempt to do what 10-location, Denver, Colo.-based chicken brand Birdcall does and build an in-house POS system named Poncho, completely personalized to your company’s needs.

Mark Lohmann — the newly named CEO of Birdcall, replacing founder and former CEO Peter Newlin in December — said that he was drawn to the position following his time as president of Rego Restaurant Group in large part because of the company’s industry leading proprietary tech stack.

“I honestly don’t know a lot of brands doing something similar,” Lohmann said, referring to both Birdcall’s tech capabilities and leadership in the elevated quick-service space. “Poncho gives us better control over the guest experience and lets us manage the restaurants more efficiently. It completely integrates the front and back of house and […] gives us an edge over other restaurant groups to deliver excellence to guests and employees.”

In more detail, Poncho allows the front of the house and back of the house to communicate and receive guest orders via various platforms without use of a middleman. According to Lohmann, guests can order from a streamlined, customizable menu at a kiosk when they walk into a Birdcall and their order will go directly to the kitchen with no translation needed, which makes the process simpler both for the guest and employee. The entire system was built from scratch and just might prove the boon of in-house technology without need of third-party systems. Birdcall also automatically owns and can analyze its own data.

So, why aren’t all brands doing this?

“It’s difficult to retrofit in-house technology into a restaurant that has already been designed, but when Peter and Phillipe started this brand in 2017, they started with both the restaurant idea and the technology idea at the same time,” Lohmann said. “They wanted to deliver a great experience in a fast-casual environment and felt they needed to control all the tech features of the restaurant to do that […] With Poncho, we have full control over the features we need and don’t need. We don’t develop features without a readily identifiable problem in the restaurant.”

This is also why they don’t just cave and partner with some technology vendors to buy a tech feature off the shelf. He said that when you buy something from a third party, it’s much harder to find an exact fit for your brand’s needs and there’s also value in being able to control the entire tech experience.   

Besides running a POS system that can deftly transfer front of house orders to the back of the house, what else does Birdcall have in store for Poncho? While Lohmann was tight-lipped on any changes coming soon to Poncho, he did hint that they were working on some “surprising” new features for the in-house tech stack and to “stay tuned” for more details.  

Lohmann was more forthright about his non-tech-related plans for Birdcall, which includes opening in new markets outside of the Denver area, including Arizona and Dallas, where they recently opened the brand’s first out-of-state locations and plan to continue developing in those areas.

“We’re laser focused on what makes Birdcall special in Colorado and exporting that to new places,” he said.

Contact Joanna at [email protected]

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