BigChefs / Corona crisis

Ordering food – and fashion – digitally

Deniz Karaman, Head of Marketing & Communications at BigChefs Germany, at the first BigChefs location in Germany. The brand's second restaurant will also open in Frankfurt.
Charlotte Holzhäuser
Deniz Karaman, Head of Marketing & Communications at BigChefs Germany, at the first BigChefs location in Germany. The brand's second restaurant will also open in Frankfurt.

In September 2020, the Turkish brand BigChefs will have 64 locations. After the lifting of the lockdown, which the self-proclaimed "love brand" has experienced at all its locations, a couple of new units have already been opened: three new restaurants in the home country, five more are planned for Turkey in 2020. And the first restaurant in Erbil, Iraq. In addition to pure unit growth, founder Gamze Cizreli is driving digital innovation.

"The company's plan for 2020 was 20 percent growth," says Deniz Karaman, marketing director of the Turkish brand in Germany. "Of course, we didn't manage that. System-wide, we are now at about 80 percent of the sales volume of the pre-Corona period". The first and so far only location in Germany at the Frankfurt ECE center MyZeil is probably slightly below the system-wide average. According to the operator, the frequencies of the shopping center in the city are currently still 25 percent below the previous year's level. The location of BigChefs at the food court Foodtopia on the fourth floor does not make business any easier.

"But people come back," reports Karaman. They are satisfied with the breakfast and evening business. More difficult is the lunchtime. "Here we lack the influx from the offices, but also the tourists." On the other hand, the average receipt per guest has risen. "I have the impression that the guests treat themselves more – especially since so much had to be cancelled in the last few months, often including holidays."
BigChefs is already preparing for the fact that it will be even harder in the coming weeks. Karaman cannot imagine a Christmas business like last year. In view of the increasing number of coronavirus infections everywhere, the communications and marketing expert expects the restrictions to be tightened, i.e. the contact restrictions.

Location No. 2 for Frankfurt

However, the Turkish brand is holding on to a second location in Frankfurt. "We want to expand further in Germany. We are currently looking around in different cities. Of course, the range of properties on offer now is much larger than before the crisis," says Karaman. But it is clear that the German unit No. 2 is opening in Frankfurt. They want to take advantage of the logistical advantages of a second unit in the same city. "But it is also clear that we want to take to the high street with the second restaurant." A second shopping center location is not an issue.

QR code instead of menu

Since the reopening, all tables at the Frankfurt location have been equipped with QR codes. Once guests have registered, they can access the menu. "Single use menus are available, of course. But we are cautious with that. After all, they are only intended for those who don't have a smartphone or have difficulty using one - but if they are seen by other guests, many ask for them," reports Deniz Karaman. This is a phenomenon unknown in Turkey. "The Turks are much further ahead in terms of digitalization. The use of social networks plays a much greater role than here. Digital tools pose no challenge at all."

Big Chefs, Frankfurt: Levante kitchen in MyZeil

After the introduction of the QR codes for registration and menu, online ordering will be introduced soon. "For this purpose we also provide a QR code. Guests will then be able to choose directly from the menu from their seat and send their order to the kitchen," explains Karaman. The technology is ready and waiting for the new winter menu.

Food & Fashion & Music

The brand will soon take another step in its home country. In the coming weeks, founder Gamze Cizreli will launch a digital presence for the brand there, bringing together food, fashion and music. The food of the Big Chefs as well as the fashion of Turkish designers were photographically staged for this. A click on the picture or the QR code scan will then lead you either to ordering food or a new item of clothing. As an extra, there is also the matching music. Cizreli has also put together a playlist for each food scene - also available via QR Code Scan and Spotify.