Nicole Jacobi and Ben Bate had a simple idea for a great restaurant: charm, classic cuisine, and modern, customer-centric technology to seamlessly align everything. Out of this formula was born Ludwig’s German Table, a family-style German restaurant in San Jose, California.
The two co-owners were European immigrants, Jacobi immigrating from Germany and Bate hailing from the U.K. Each arrived in America with an entrepreneurial fire, and were introduced to one another through Bate’s brother-in-law. During this time, Jacobi was operating The Food Shed Café at the Children’s Discovery Museum in San Jose, California. Bate was soon working for Jacobi, and they just seemed to click.
Very soon after first meeting, the two were making plans to open a German restaurant, a natural connection to Jacobi’s native culture. Their vision for opening a modern, but cozy, restaurant with various gathering spaces was eerily similar.
“It was almost like we didn’t really need to talk about it,” he says. “One of us would want to do something, and the other would be like, ‘Oh, that’s exactly what I would’ve done.’”
Creating a great gathering space
The space that they leased for Ludwig’s German Table was a perfect fit. An historic building with more than 4,000 square feet, the distinctive facility had been rebuilt after a fire. However, it still had the authentic German flair the partners wanted.
More than a century old, this was the place that would let them escape the boring, “cookie cutter and sterile” feel of some other restaurants, Bate says.
Once the lease was signed, the partners opted for “community style” seating with large tables that could accommodate bigger groups and allow more than one crowd to sit at the same table, encouraging conversation.
Although maintaining the historic feel of the venue was critical, Nicole and Ben knew that embracing modern technology would light the fire for enhancing restaurant operations. Servers use handheld Clover Flex point-of-sale devices for optimum customer service, allowing them to take orders and issue checks without having to repeatedly crisscross the restaurant. Faster service means happier customers, and that translates in to return visitors.
“The Biergarten alone is 1,500 square feet,” Bate says. “When we open up the event hall, it’s another 2,000. As soon as the customer is asking for something, it’s being sent straight to the kitchen.” Fully integrating Clover into their business operations helps eliminate lag time and decreases mistakes.
And the owners are hands-on, too, running day-to-day operations and paying personal attention to patrons.
“It's not that I need people to know I own the restaurant,” Bate says. “I’m out with the customers because I believe that people want to be taken care of.”
Crafting a compelling story
Ludwig’s Silicon Valley location has helped build a loyal customer base while also serving a corporate client list that includes companies like Cisco Systems, Netflix, and Lufthansa. Ludwig’s also hosts events, such as a Christmas market with food and multiple vendors, which has grown to more than 3,000 visitors for the one-day event. The event has become so popular that during the December 2018 event, people had to wait for over an hour before getting in the door.
Ludwig’s great food, the sense of community shared by diners, and a passionate social media following caught Clover’s attention and helped lead to Ludwig’s being named the 1st place winner in the 2019 CloverAchievers contest, which was launched to celebrate small businesses that represent the great American entrepreneurial spirit.
“Ludwig’s German Table really separated themselves from the others by sharing a compelling story about their business and by using multiple Clover devices to truly enhance the customer experience,” says Mark Schulze, co-founder of Clover. “What Ben and Nicole have developed embraces a communal environment, which truly embodies the type of business we were looking to highlight with CloverAchievers.”
Jacobi and Bate are now making plans for a second location, which they hope will open in early 2020. And while the look and feel will be somewhat different, their commitment to great food, drinks, innovative technology and communal experiences will still be fueled by a true love of bringing authentic German food and culture to the Bay area, Bate says.
A recipe, no doubt, for success.
To learn more about Ludwig’s German Table and the other CloverAchievers contest winners, visit www.firstdata.com/clovercontest.
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