Line Kleppe was the booking manager at Noma for the past three years; of course, that job changed drastically when COVID hit. As all restaurants suffered through COVID, the best-booked restaurant of the globe with generally international guests, already started seeing more cancellations, mainly from overseas in January. And then the final blow came with the lockdown in March.
The Noma manager team gathered with head chef and co-owner Rene Redzepi to see what to do next. And they all agreed that it didn't feel suitable to open Noma as the original Noma just yet. They felt that COVID increased the need for people to come together over something more informal, something that everybody likes, not necessarily a lengthy, multi-course dinner this time around.
The idea for a burger pop-up in the gardens of Noma was born. And it became an immense hit, there were long lines every day, for four weeks straight. This success led to the idea of a permanent solution, and as a result POPL was opened in December ‘20, located in the harbor of Copenhagen. POPL is warm and welcoming; it has a touch of Noma with its natural materials and plants from the Noma greenhouse to make it a cozy hangout. The menu revolves around the burgers they served at the pop-up, predominantly two types of burgers—the veggie quinoa patty, which is made at Noma in a two-day fermentation process. And the classical cheeseburger, made of local Western Denmark beef from bulls, who would otherwise be discarded.
POPL is a more everyday restaurant with great quality food, where a team of 30 people, mainly Noma veterans, bring that extra attention to detail and dedication to service. You go here to enjoy a nice meal with family and friends. It's a place where you can always walk in. So, with this new Noma concept, the restaurant needs also changed. This is where Formitable came in.
Different concepts, different needs
Line tells us they had been shopping around for a while to find the perfect booking system for their new venue. Line, "We first started with the same booking system we used at Noma. But Noma has way different needs. At POPL we are more fast-paced and have a lot of seats. We don't need all the unnecessary aspects that sometimes complicate things. What I immediately liked about Formitable is how intuitive it is. We needed a solid system without the frills, just straightforward and flexible."
“The agility lets us find out what works best for us and helps us optimize how many guests we can fit in. Especially in the restaurant industry, where we work with small margins, having the flexibility to tweak things continuously is an immense help.”
Flexibility is key
Line; "With my background, I know the pros and cons of many booking systems I worked with in the past. There are some things in my opinion that you need to have, for example, the possibility of pacing guests. Also, the option to create separate tickets for events, the terrace, and the restaurant itself is extremely helpful.
Since the Waitlist feature launched, we've implemented this to tell people a table becomes available automatically, but we can also do this manually when we see an extensive line outside. This is an excellent example of the flexibility of Formitable's features."
Saving time with a flexible system
"When I'm working in the Formitable dashboard, I see how much time it saves me that we don't have to adjust the bookings manually anymore, as the guests can do it themselves. If you have a system that doesn't allow guests to make amendments or cancel their reservations themselves, you, as an admin person, will spend a lot of time taking these calls and answering these emails.
"We have just started using the option that guests can reconfirm their bookings; this way, we fight no-shows. Additionally, the flexible component of Formitable, together with the fact that they were very accommodating in helping us set up our account, was the deciding factor for us in choosing Formitable."
Playing Tetris became fun again
"At POPL we implemented Formitable in a couple of days because it's so intuitive to use and that makes it easier to train our staff to use it. It's always nerve-racking to change booking systems or change anything systematic in the restaurant because if something goes wrong, it can become a nightmare. But it all went very smoothly.
As a host, you play Tetris every day, seating people in different places, moving groups around, trying different table constellations. We can all make these adjustments ourselves now. With the previous systems, we couldn't make these changes. I think the agility is fun to play with, as we are still a new restaurant and are figuring things out. This agility lets us find out what works best for us and helps us optimize how many guests we can fit in. Especially in the restaurant industry, where we work with small margins, having the flexibility to tweak things continuously is an immense help."