Mary Anne Butler still drives a decked out “soup mobile” around the streets of Chatham, but she’s expanded well beyond her on-the-road roots. Serving delicious, diner classics with a spin (including 150 soups), Hungry Sam’s quickly grew from a seasonal food truck in 2011 into a much larger, year-round restaurant in 2012. They’ve since expanded into catering, added a third venture — a coffee shop — and are working on a wholesale business. Great food sets them apart, but it’s technology that’s helping them keep up with their growth.
When Mary Anne Butler drives her decked out “soup mobile” around the streets of Chatham, there’s no doubting she’s the big cheese in town. Owner of Hungry Sam’s, Butler has quickly become a favourite of the local community: “People will stop beside us on the road, roll down their windows, and ask us what the specials are for the day.”
It’s this kind of enthusiasm for Butler’s delicious diner classics with a spin (including 150 soups), that helped Hungry Sam’s grow from a seasonal food truck in 2011 into a much larger, year-round restaurant in 2012. “It’s a tiny space, but we have a lot of charm,” says Butler, who runs the place with her son Sam, Hungry Sam’s namesake. With the recent addition of a third venture — a coffee shop called Sam’s Percolator — Butler’s plate is fuller than ever, even with 11 employees on hand.
With a business that continues to rapidly grow, it’s more important than ever to keep the restaurants running like well-oiled machines. While Mary Anne does the prep work and menu development, Sam operates the back end of the business out of the home office. “I handle email correspondence, book catering, order inventory, and I’ve even started to digitize all our documents,” says Sam.
To help with the digitizing process — and to make catering jobs easier (yes, Hungry Sam’s does catering, too!), Sam made the switch to TELUS in 2014, and added a mobile payment system in the process. It gives Sam the freedom to accept payments from his smartphone while out on catering jobs: “Our customers don’t want the hassle of coming into the store to make a payment — it’s the last thing on their minds.”
Add in an iPad, three smartphones and a business plan catered to their specific needs, and Hungry Sam’s has no trouble keeping both the back and front of the house running smoothly — even during the daily lunch rush. And, they know that if any issues arise during their ‘can’t-stop-even-for-a-second’ days, TELUS is always there to help. “I always feel safe and taken care of with TELUS. They’re very transparent and I know I’m always getting what I paid for.”
So what do the next five years look like for this mother-son duo? “We are currently working on wholesaling products to stores, streamlining catering operations, and even expanding our kitchen.” They even have big dreams of going directly into the wholesale market, and would love for TELUS to stay with them as they grow. “We’d like to provide more staff with phones, especially if they are doing sales or deliveries; if they’re out of the store, we’d need to be able to keep in touch with them.”
But, above all else, Mary Anne and Sam simply want to continue doing what they love while keeping like-minded people around them at all times. “I don’t really like to call this work. It’s something that I really enjoy doing. When we win awards or get feedback, I just feel like we’ve nailed it. It’s a marvelous feeling.”
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