I am excited to show you an innovation, which Tolstoy team has been working on for a while.
Our first Tolstoy Grab & Go – adjacent to Tolstoy, fully automated 24/7 mini-market controlled by 2 touchscreens, with the capacity to store 180 product groups and ~1.500 products – will be launched in July.
Let me start with the problem. Restaurant business is a low margin business. Especially in Europe, where an employer needs to pay lots of taxes and fees in addition to a net salary.
So, from the beginning when we decided to focus on Europe we decided to focus on automation. There came our self-service kiosks (no cashier at the restaurant) and guided kitchen workflows (time saved) among other things.
With those solutions we managed to push Tolstoy profitability to impressive 13% (at net monthly revenue of EUR >60 k in May), which is higher than traditional fast-food players – but the challenge remains: how can we drive this number up even further?
That’s when vending came to our attention. We decided to integrate vending into the restaurant concept to drive additional sales without incurring additional operating costs.
On top of capital expenditure, main costs of vending are rent, logistics and maintenance – all of which we do not incur additionally due to running the restaurant at the same location. Our supply chain is set up, the storage is already there and the personnel can maintain the machines during the restaurant downtimes.
The products will include some of Tolstoy pasteurised dishes – but this will not be the main focus. We will offer the variety of plant-based products like vegan dairy, snacks, drinks, etc – but also vegan non-food products like toothpastes, soaps, creams. The nature of the products (long shelf life) ensures easy handling. Positioning next to our restaurant ensures trust from the customers, who know our brand and its quality.
I will share the stats of “Grab & Go” in a few months – and if this project proves successful we will build “Grab & Go” in all of our future Tolstoy locations :)