Fast Days, Fine Nights: John Berryhill Unites Fast Casual and Full Service
John Berryhill's two concepts combine in a hybrid success.
Diners visiting 121 North 9th Street in Boise, Idaho, at night may do a double take if they were there earlier in the day. Operating as Bacon restaurant until 3 p.m., it flips to Berryhill restaurant for the evening.
Originally, the two concepts—both owned by veteran restaurateur John Berryhill—were in two locations, but to simplify his business and reduce overall costs, Berryhill combined them in January.
The restaurants are completely different: Bacon is a breakfast and lunch spot with counter service; Berryhill is “fine yet casual dining,” serving dinner only. A complete transformation happens daily to flip the business models.
Meals at Bacon are eaten at eclectic old-style wooden tables, with a bucket of rolled-up flatware, condiments, and to-go menus on each. For Berryhill, placemats go down, along with silverware, wine goblets, water glasses, candles, “and big linen napkin poufs.”
Bar stools are removed from the counter, to further enhance the open-kitchen dining, and the chalkboards showing Bacon’s menu flip to simply say “Cheers.” Outside, the restaurant’s sign changes, too.
Every subtle detail is tweaked: The music changes, the lighting changes, the staff changes. Even staff uniforms change from Southern-style casual to more elegant clothing. Between 3 and 4 p.m., the designated flip hour, the restaurant plays "I Will Survive" really loudly, and 3 o’clock begins the three-hour happy hour. “That song really establishes the flip,” Berryhill says.
There’s a back-of-house flip, too, which is even more significant, Berryhill notes. The Bacon chefs put everything away, just as the Berryhill kitchen staff rolls out their utensils.
Operationally, the two concepts share some items, “because any time you can figure out how to share, it makes more sense from a cost perspective,” Berryhill says. Among the shared items: bacon, pickles, lasagna, some cuts of beef, tomatoes, grits, and catfish.
An unexpected result of the combination of the two restaurants was that Berryhill was able to give some promotions and raises. For the most part, the operation has two teams—day and night—and there are fewer staff members, “so we’ve been able to be a little more picky.” And it’s definitely more efficient, he says. “We have less equipment, one health inspection, one liquor license, and so on.”
In terms of challenges, the biggest one was unexpected: Storage space. Having enough back-of-house and front-of-house storage space for both concepts—from shelving to coolers—proved tricky. “The flip concept is not just a lunch-to-dinner transition,” Berryhill explains. “Both back-of-house and front-of-house opening and closing procedures must be down pat, as moving from restaurant to restaurant with uninterrupted service can present challenges. During the actual flip, both crews must work together for a seamless transition. It’s a dance—and sometimes it’s a fast dance—almost a polka.”