Restaurant owner launches second site after success of booking app

An award-winning restaurateur is opening a second site in the North East after his new technology allowed him to reduce costs in the switch to takeaway.

Sunil Mehra devised the Bookslots app for his Haveli restaurant in Ponteland, with the technology that gets people to book pick-up times allowing him to better plan staff needs and food orders.

Now Mr Mehra is opening a second restaurant in Jesmond, Newcastle, with the first orders being taken last night.

He said: “People are surprised that I am expanding the business during the coronavirus pandemic but the software system I have developed, Bookslots, has been the key to the opening of Haveli Newcastle. It is literally saving time and effort – and therefore money.

Sunil Mehra, owner of Haveli Ponteland
Sunil Mehra, owner of Haveli Ponteland
(Image: Haveli)

“The restaurant has been more profitable since lockdown because I have been able to bring in revenues of 60% of a normal week’s trading but with far fewer staff.

“Opening in Newcastle allows us to unfurlough more of our team and protect jobs with Government assistance coming to an end soon.”

With the number of staff who can work in the kitchen restricted by social distancing rules, Bookslots creates efficiencies and works to balance supply and demand within kitchen capacity.

Customers pre-order slots in the same way as they would book a supermarket delivery, with orders placed directly into their car boot to make the whole process contactless.

Bookslots is now being used by The Patricia and Flint Pizza in Newcastle, the Blackbird in Ponteland and the Northumberland Arms and the system has recently been adapted to provide systems for pubs and restaurants as well.

Mr Mehra said: “Bookslots can now take online reservations for tables at pubs and restaurants, it allows people to order and pay from their table using a smartphone and businesses can stay in touch with customers using SMS and email notifications. And, of course, it does away with the issue of no-shows because everyone pre-orders and pre-pays.

“I didn’t create Bookslots to make money, I was simply looking for a solution to the problem my own business was facing, but this will work for other businesses and anyone who registers on can trial it for free for a month to see for themselves.”

Plans are being made to re-open Haveli Ponteland for diners for one night a week, but Mr Mehra said he will only do so when it is safe.