Originally posted on qsrmagazine.com.

Taco Mac, a 27-unit sports bar based in Atlanta, has designs to grow within Georgia, and into other states. Jason Everett, vice president of operations, reports that Taco Mac is on track to open five restaurants per year for the foreseeable future. That would double the brand’s footprint within the next five years.

But Taco Mac’s road to growth faces many of the same challenges that other brands are encountering in 2022: labor has never cost more, and it’s difficult to properly staff a restaurant in order to keep up with demand. “Productivity of kitchen staff has been a particular challenge,” Everett says. “We’re definitely the same as everyone else in that we’ve had to find ways to do more with the same or fewer team members.”

Inexperience and understaffing can lead to inconsistencies in the back-of-house for some brands. Fortunately, Taco Mac feels more bullish than many when it comes to its kitchen operations, thanks in part to a move it made in 2019, prior to the pandemic. That’s when Taco Mac adopted TransAct’s BOHA! food labeling system.

BOHA! does all of the heavy lifting for employees when it comes to food labeling: there are no handwritten logs that need to be kept, labels that need to be written, or any calculations done manually. For example, if a team member preps a bunch of tomatoes, the system knows exactly what “use by” date to put on the label—all the team member has to do is select the food item and press “print.”

The process helps eliminate the opportunity for human error, which helps Taco Mac—and the many other brands that use BOHA!—remain FDA compliant and prepared to pass health inspections. As Everett points out, the automated printing of labels also ensures that the back-of-house team isn’t wasting time writing out dozens of labels per day.

“A team member may prep 30 containers of one item—think about how long it takes to fill out six-to-eight sections of the label 30 different times,” Everett says. “There’s a labor-savings aspect there for sure.”

But most importantly, Everett says, BOHA!’s food labeling makes Taco Mac’s operations more consistent. As a restaurant brand looking to grow, a food safety error at any of the 27 locations—and counting—could cost the brand a whole lot more than a fine, or a slap on the wrist.

“The transition to electronic labeling was an immediate win for Taco Mac,” Everett says. “Back when we were relying on team members to label, there was no integrity or consistency behind that system. Now, we have a system that is highly accurate and organized. It’s been a slam dunk.”

Food labeling is just one of the several back-of-house tasks that BOHA! is capable of automating. While Taco Mac has not yet delved into the other possibilities—from task management to temperature logs, to time tracking for prep and other processes, and many more error-prone back-of-house tasks—he sees a bright future for the relationship between his brand and TransAct as a vendor partner.

“Having TransAct as a partner when it comes to equipment and certain software is a big help to us,” Everett says. “As we expand, we’ll definitely be expanding with their products, because they’ve been that great to us—any way they can help, they’re all in.”

By Charlie Pogacar, QSR Magazine