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In the latest episode of Hospitality Hangout podcast, Michael Schatzberg “The Restaurant Guy” and Jimmy Frischling “ The Finance Guy” chat with Amer Wahab, President of Kettlemans Bagels.

Founded over two decades ago, Kettleman’s Bagels, led by CEO Craig Buckley and President Amer Wahab, has established itself as a veritable food institution in Ottawa, with a steadfast commitment to crafting the best bagels the old-fashioned way. Operating around the clock, every day of the year, Kettleman’s Bagel is renowned for its traditional Montreal-style bagels, made with premium ingredients, hand-rolled, kettle-boiled in honey water, and baked in a wood-burning oven stoked with carefully selected hardwood. The business model is as unique as its bagels, offering a fully transparent, “no-wall” experience that lets customers witness the entire preparation and baking process.

Wahab was asked about the expansion success, the right franchise partners and hiring employees. Wahab shares that Kettlemans has units that do more than $4.8 million in revenue.

In a bid to streamline service and meet customer demands for speed, Kettleman’s Bagel Co. launched a mobile ordering app pre-COVID that has reshaped the customer experience. “The nature of quick service restaurants is to be quick,” President Amer Wahab explained, “And in listening to our guests, we’ve tried to make our service quicker.” Now, customers can place orders and receive their bagel sandwiches in as little as five minutes when ordering in-store.

The app’s functionality allows for scheduled pickups, but understanding the unpredictable nature of daily schedules, the company integrated geofencing technology, in partnership with BlueDot, to ensure product freshness upon arrival. “People’s schedules sometimes change. You may place your order to pick up at 11:30, but due to traffic or other delays, it’s 11:45. We want your food to be just right,” Wahab said. This technology triggers the kitchen to prepare orders as customers cross a specified threshold, ensuring a fresher, better product upon handoff at the drive-through or counter.

Additionally, Kettleman’s Bagels has looked to technology to aid in its production process, specifically in dealing with the manual labor involved in producing about 3,000 pounds of cream cheese a week. “We’re scooping it by hand,” Wahab said. Recognizing the potential for technology and AI to improve this process, the company collaborated with a tech firm to automate the weighing and dispensing of cream cheese. “You tell the machine you want 175 grams, it spits it out. It doesn’t matter the consistency of the product,” Wahab added. These technological advancements are not only improving efficiency but also contributing to the overall quality of the Kettleman’s experience.

To hear the questions and Wahab’s responses to “Two Truths and a Lie” check out this episode of Hospitality Hangout.

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