Welcome! Today, St. Pierre’s marked a huge milestone for the company – our first-ever sushi drive thru! It’s definitely the first sushi drive thru in NZ – and we think the first outside Japan! What a big step!
A couple of weeks after opening the Onehunga shop sushi and Bento Bowl eat in, today was day one for drive thru! Prominently located on Neilson St, the main road onto the motorway south, it’s the ideal spot to grab a healthy or hearty meal on the go.
The drive thru format meant we could do our famous sushi giveaway today, with Nick firing up the crowd – socially distanced in cars! – like he loves so much to do. We kept the promotion low-key to avoid creating a traffic jam – but word still got around. People heard about the giveaway on Facebook, More FM and on Newshub and came down in droves!
Lots of local characters came by – check out the videos at the end too!
Interestingly, customers came from all over Auckland – some locals, but also from Mount Albert, Mangere, Manurewa and beyond. Our first customer came all the way from Papakura! While she usually goes to the Takanini shop, she was fascinated by the idea of sushi drive thru and came to check it out (as well as grab lunch!)
While queues built up at some points, the shop crew – led by energetic managers Rico (sushi) and TJ (Bento Bowl) – kept things moving quickly. So far, so smooth, thanks to huge work behind the scenes. Facilities team members Cris and Johnny put in many hours over the holidays, making sure every last detail is perfect. IT has also been crucial to the successful opening – our Chief Information Officer Tan commented that
“We develop all of our IT systems in house, so the drive thru project was a big, new challenge for us. We have been working toward this day for two years, and it has all gone smoothly thanks to our dedicated team. After we developed the software, we spent hundreds more hours testing the systems to cope with any situation. We even had to rent extra office space so we could lay out the hardware and simulate the drive thru in action. Then we had ten days of in-store trialling for the staff to learn the system. Their feedback will help us make improvements in future.”
Finally, Director Nick Katsoulis commented that
“Onehunga is off to a great start! It has been a huge effort, and we believe we’ve created a world-class drive thru operation. But there is still a lot to learn. We need to understand what our customers want to order in the drive thru and if that’s different from in the shop. Then we need to adapt our processes to suit. We may be trading for longer hours at the drive thru, and we still haven’t started delivery services here like Uber Eats. That’s our next big challenge!
Adding a drive thru is like moving from a 2D to a 3D business – so much changes, and continues to change. One example is the menu boards. Our design team rethought the layout to make ordering from a car easier, so for example the drive thru menu has a unique number for each product. This makes ordering quicker and easier for the customer and staff. Communication by intercom voice only challenged us to rethink how our ordering works.
So the drive thru project has been tough, but we took it as a valuable chance to rethink how we do everything. Offering drive thru service is big step up for the company, rivalling the major brands, and we’ve relished the opportunity to improve every aspect of what we provide to our customers.
The Onehunga shop will be a real landmark in the Onehunga community – day or night! – as well as a focal shop for the St. Pierre’s Group. It will be the platform for many exciting new developments – watch this space! In the meantime, we hope to see you in Onehunga soon!