He and Webb knew the same movement was happening in the restaurant industry. So the two set out to create a tech stack, back when they didn’t know the terminology for it. Daddy’s became one of the early customers of Ordermark (now called Nextbite)—an online ordering solution that offers integration of third-party delivery providers—and played around with facial recognition kiosks and autonomous delivery. By the end of 2018, Daddy’s was on 11 delivery apps and offered native online ordering.
Georgalas says he and Webb essentially “Frankenstein’d” what turned into a productive omnichannel system.
“Trying to stay slightly ahead of the tech, but not so far ahead of it that it wasn't something that our customers wanted,” Georgalas says. “We really spent a lot of time reverse engineering what our customers really wanted from us and how they wanted to access our food. We're confident with our food, but we were like, how is anybody going to know about us, that we're in this place, and nobody's ever heard of us before?”
Those issues won’t be a problem at the upcoming restaurant prototype in Houston, scheduled to open at the end of February. The store is standalone, although Webb doesn’t expect that model to represent any more than 25 percent of future locations; most are likely to be inline or endcap restaurants. The flagship intends to show potential franchisees an example of the “biggest, baddest thing you could have” and then modify from there.
The standalone prototype is 2,400 square feet with 51 seats and will offer self-ordering kiosks and a drive-thru lane strictly for picking up mobile orders, similar to Chipotle’s accelerating Chipotlane business.
The dining room will be minimized in favor of a larger kitchen that houses two make lines—one for in-store customers and another for takeout and delivery orders.
“The worst thing you want for an in-person customer is, 'Hold on, we’re really bogged down with delivery orders,'” Webb says. “It's the biggest diss I think you can give in-person diners somewhere.”
The store’s interior was crafted by Webb’s father, an artist and graphic designer, and Harrison, a global consultancy company that’s assisted with designs of several restaurants, including Fogo de Chão and Maggiano’s. The result is an authentic-looking shack that mismatches different elements of a house. Throughout the store, customers will see windows of random sizes and other odd placements, like a door hanging from the dining room ceiling.
While the American South is the front-facing aesthetic, Japanese minimalism is a design backbone, Webb says, with a store layout that facilitates easier wayfinding.
“I always say it looks like somebody's house that they've lived in for 50 years, and they remodel every 10 years a different room,” Webb says. “Some different elements to it.”
The Daddy’s owners have already hosted discovery days at their Pasadena location, which the two enjoy showcasing despite the small size. Webb views it as an opportunity to inform candidates on what’s doable in 700 square feet and juxtapose those feats to what’s even more possible with the additional resources of the larger, well-equipped prototype.
The restaurant will likely select Texas as a starting point and grow contiguously to ensure efficient and effective growth. The brand is in negotiations currently with prospective operators, and Georgalas and Webb anticipate the company will have more to share in the early part of 2022.
Webb says there’s been an “impressive” amount of interest, and Georgalas attributes that to Daddy’s laser focus on understanding how its branding, employees, and food make people feel.
“The way we look at things is, how is our interaction in any aspect of our business, whether we're talking to potential multi-unit operators or we're interacting with our staff, our staff interacting with customers as a whole, I always think about how is that interaction?” Georgalas says. “Do we make somebody feel better? Did we make somebody feel worse? And I think that's what we're really trying to build this business around.”