Before the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, Anthony and Michael Giallourakis thought they had a strong concept to help customers find local independent restaurants.
Now, during the downturn caused by efforts to contain the spread of the virus, the father and son team think it’s an even better idea to boost sales at those restaurants, many of whom currently are struggling.
Their Palm Harbor company, Loyal Cast, developed software for pre-paid meal pickup with a mobile app that enables touchless take-out.
The idea, said Anthony Giallourakis, a finance and marketing industry veteran who co-founded the company with his son, Michael, is that a restaurant owner or chef can create a “meal of the day” special, based on the ingredients in the inventory that day. Using Loyal Cast’s software, the restaurateur specifies what the meal will include and when meals will be available for pickup.
The software generates meal codes that restaurants sell to their customers for a pre-set price. Each code is unique, and when the customer gets a notification from the restaurant that there’s a meal special, he or she can enter the code into the app and get a credit they can use for a meal pickup. The customer has a set amount of time to accept the code each day. Meal codes have no expiration and those that are not used stay on the customers’ account for future use.
For customers, “it’s generally going to be more value for less money,” Giallourakis said. It also offers advantages to the restauranteur. “The restauranteur knows exactly how many people accepted, exactly how many people he can expect to come in and pick up that meal, and he can prepare accordingly. There’s no waste, no inefficient labor expended and the customers get a good deal while supporting that restaurant.”
Loyal Cast launched in 2018, originally with a focus on customer appreciation and loyalty.
“We originally were almost a tech platform that was white label. We weren’t trying to market beyond the bare minimum. We were trying to give restaurants that otherwise would not have access to this type of smart, mobile marketing technology an edge up on all the big chains, the fast food guys, the companies that have millions of dollars to spend on this type of technology. We were trying to provide that bridge to their best customers by giving codes out as rewards,” Giallourakis said. “But during the pandemic we realized we could repurpose our software and the restaurants could actually sell the codes – or give them away as gifts – and focus on the opportunity to generate very high-margin business at a time when cash flow is important.”
Customers can buy meal codes for themselves or family and friends, and they can donate a meal code to someone else.
Right now, Loyal Cast isn’t charging restaurants for the service, said Michael Giallourakis, a Culinary Institute of America graduate who previously was a sushi chef at Pisces Sushi & Global Bistro in Dunedin.
“We’re doing everything for our customers right now for free, because of the coronavirus ordeal and how tragic this is for all these restaurateurs who are possibly losing their entire livelihood,” he said.
Once the crisis is solved and restaurants are back on their feet, Loyal Cast likely will offer a monthly subscription service to restaurants, he said.
Loyal Cast is well-capitalized so it can provide the service for free now and at a low cost in the future, he said. The company also is small with just two other employees: Matthew Giallourakis, who is technical designer and software engineer and a graduate student at Florida Polytechnic University; and Judson Brundage, technical lead and software engineer.
The company currently is focused in Palm Harbor, Tarpon Springs and Dunedin, and just picked up its first account in Tampa, Michael Giallourakis said.
The software is set up to handle a national business, Anthony Giallourakis said. “The technology we’re using scales easily and the system can work anywhere.”
Loyal Cast has additional information for restaurants on its website.