Parson’s Chicken & Fish, known for its communal seating and fried chicken, has two locations in Chicago with a combined 39 total seats across both restaurants. Ensuring each of those seats was occupied was more important than ever for ensuring the restaurant’s survival when reopening post-COVID-19. In addition to operating with ever-changing guidelines from the city and state, their style of service had to change to cater to smaller parties.
Eric Houser, the Director of Operations, has been working with the team there for over seven years and was responsible for navigating the new challenges of COVID-19. Forced to let go of much of his staff due to the financial effects of mandated closures, Houser became responsible for many tasks which were previously delegated to other employees. He sprang into action to manage a host of new functions including delivery, takeaway, adult slushie production, a new inventory system, and online reservations through Resy.
Prior to COVID-19, Parson’s Chicken & Fish only accepted large party reservations online and left the rest of their tables open for walk-ins. Before Chicago planned to open up for outdoor dining three months after the start of the pandemic, Houser went to work rearranging the floor plan and manipulating table capacities. Some two person tables became four-to-six person tables, and more tables were added to online inventory for a more predictable and profitable service. “We couldn’t operate in a dining room full of 2-tops,” said Houser. “Our style of service is communal so we need to mix in those large tables for it to still feel like us.”
In the month after Parson’s Logan Square and Lincoln Park locations reopened for dining, they seated nearly two thousand 2-tops and saw an over 400% increase in online bookings year over year. Since guests couldn’t dine in large groups, opening up availability for smaller parties allowed Parson’s to fill the seats. Setting capacity parameters ensured that Parson’s maximised profit on each table.
“Managing turn-times has been a learning process,” Houser said, “but now we’re constantly dialing in and changing things around.” Offering smaller parties online allowed for more accurate forecasting and turn times to maximise each seating. Manipulating turn times for each table size ensures all of Parson’s seats stay full as often as possible. By using Single Day Edits to improvise from the Resy Dashboard and Resy OS app in the iPad, Houser has become a Resy Pro.