QSR Media got in touch with Jacob Beye, Hey Zeus’ founder, to discuss the brand’s ethos and its journey towards automation.
The brand serves bowls and wraps based on a warm blend of rice and quinoa with the use of over 95% organic and locally sourced ingredients. A new concept with one store so far, Hey Zeus believes that the best way to support the Australian economy is to source its ingredients, bottled, beverages, and biodegradable packaging locally. The brand’s cashless venture has created better jobs, with employees paid above minimum wages and working in a low stress, supportive environment.
QSR Media: Tell us about the brand Hey Zeus.
The visual elements of the brand are designed to be a bit nonsensical, and thus more memorable to consumers. The dog icon and name are based on my 2yo staffy, Zeus. Other brand elements are meant to convey a modern and on-trend aesthetic, whilst bringing warmth and the idea of freshness with our vertical gardens and bright yellow accents.
As far as our brand perception, the main goal is to convey local sourcing and organic content. We are coming for the fast food giants and don’t shy away from making that a part of our promotional strategy. I think most people would agree that the industry needs to change the way it treats the earth and human health.
QSR Media: Who is your typical customer?
Our typical customer, because of our location, is the weekday worker looking for a more sustainable choice for lunches. We also serve a large number of students. Both groups are comfortable with technology, and have extensive social interaction in their day-to-day life. This means they don’t miss the small talk associated with ordering food at other places.
QSR Media: Tell us about your journey towards automation?
Automating the front-of-house was not where we started but rather where we ended up. We wanted to get local, organic food, served in biodegradable packing down to a price-point that would allow people to choose us over other fast food brands. Those three things are more expensive than the alternatives, so we had to reduce costs elsewhere. It’s about spending less time on each individual order so that we can produce a higher volume and thus spread our fixed costs over more meals.
QSR Media: What have been the key learnings?
People are much more comfortable with the concept than I expected. I thought we’d have to spend a fair amount of time educating people and walking them through the process. As it turned out, we were just in the way of an experience they’d been crying out for all along.
QSR Media: What would surprise people about Hey Zeus?
The most surprising thing to most people is that we are actually creating better jobs with this model, instead of removing jobs. Our employees are numerous, paid above minimum wages, and work in a low stress, supportive environment. These are the jobs of the future economy. Where employees aren’t worked to within an inch of their sanity, and where every corner is not cut when it comes to their remuneration. The core of our corporate DNA is creating a place that people like to work, and that allows them the time and resources to enjoy their lives outside of work.
QSR Media: Can you tell us about your experience with a cashless restaurant?
We are cashless! It’s part of how we cut overhead costs. Counting and dealing with cash (plus the security requirements that surround it) cost businesses a lot. It’s hard to say how many people have had to turn back because of this, but I haven’t received any feedback from our many customer facing channels yet. I did see one customer offer to pay for another who only had cash, in exchange for the cash. So that created a nice little piece of community between them.
QSR Media: Any other comments?
I think it’s important to note that we don’t deal with an multi-nationals when it comes to sourcing our ingredients, bottled, beverages, and packing. We believe the best way to support the Australian economy is to deal with the most interesting and ethical companies around us. It also helps us check up on the ethical claims they make. Doing what’s right comes ahead of profits for me, and Hey Zeus has that built into it’s core, and will as long as I’m around.
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