Success Story Nicaragua / Digital Follow-Up Assignment of Felix Muntwyler

The experience in the last few months has shown that companies can “survive” in difficult times if they are able to flexibly and creatively choose new paths for themselves. One restaurant that has done precisely this is Casa Santa Lucia in Managua, which has set up a takeaway delivery service. SEC expert and former head chef/production manager Felix Muntwyler accompanied this customer on its journey – from his office at home in Switzerland – from August through October 2020.

In autumn of 2019, SEC expert Marinus Kasteleijn was able to support the customer (at that time it was still possible to be on-site) with his expertise as a hotelier. At the time it was impossible to foresee how much the customer’s situation and that of the country would change in such a short period of time. It was important to react quickly and find something to make up for the lack of guests.

During the digital follow-up assignment of Felix Muntwyler, he and the owners of Casa Santa Lucia first designed a new business plan for the restaurant. An essential part of this plan was a concept for the expanded takeaway delivery service. This was achieved by adapting the internal processes, which increased productivity and work efficiency. After Casa Santa Lucia’s presence on Facebook was increased and WhatsApp was integrated as an order platform, demand increased by the day. At the same time, the changes made to the buffet service in the Casa Santa Lucia restaurant began to show positive results: the changes introduced in the process meant that guests could be served more quickly, waiting times were shortened and thus more guests overall could be served.

As the number of guests using the buffet and the delivery service increased rapidly, financial success soon followed. Revenues increased dramatically. Due to the high demand, the restaurant is considering establishing a second location, the planning of which should begin shortly.

A remote assignment is always a challenge, regardless of the industry. Nevertheless, Felix Muntwyler also sees the advantages of this type of consultancy: since both parties are not on-site, communication becomes essential and you simply have to spend a lot of time talking. In the end, this means that problems and their possible solutions can be analysed in much greater detail. What becomes more difficult, however, is finding workable solutions from a distance and then conveying them as simply as possible. With a customer like Casa Santa Lucia, though, it was possible to achieve the goals. Everyone’s high level of commitment and their willingness to actively participate in the consultancy made the task easier.

About the client

Casa Santa Lucia is a buffet restaurant in a lively district of Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. Guests are mainly employees of the companies in the area as well as officials from the nearby government offices. The restaurant is air-conditioned, elegant and clean and has a wonderful garden terrace with service – right in the city centre! There is a wide selection of daily set menus and everything is freshly prepared in-house.

A new addition is the restaurant’s event catering and – very recently – takeaway delivery service. The new delivery service was developed together with SEC expert Felix Muntwyler and has already been successfully implemented.

With its 16 employees, the company is not very big. This makes it possible for all employees to work seamlessly and flexibly in the kitchen, at the buffet or serving. Most of the employees have been working at Casa Santa Lucia for many years and really appreciate the management, the HR managers and the owners. The company is a family business run by a mother and son who both work at the restaurant every day. The responsibilities of the two are clearly divided, and they are both highly motivated to make improvements for the benefit of the customer and, of course, for the company.

Questions to SEC expert Felix Muntwyler

How would you rate the results achieved in general?
Overall, I was very satisfied with this assignment. After a somewhat arduous start, it turned into a successful collaboration. Working with the owners was a lot of fun; the open and constructive exchange of ideas and the pleasure taken in the work helped us achieve good results.

Which suggestions from Marinus Kasteleijn’s first assignment were implemented?
I wasn’t informed in detail about Marinus Kasteleijn’s suggestions, but according to the owners, they were able to implement all of the suggestions except for the expansion of the parking lot.

What impressed you most in this digital consultancy assignment?
I was impressed with how well the digital connection always worked. Those who know Nicaragua, and know how poor the infrastructure in this area is, will understand that it was nothing short of a miracle. I was also impressed with how much can be achieved in a remote assignment like this – of course, always on the condition that you can establish a good connection with the customer.

Where did you encounter limits with this type of consultancy?
With anything that had to do with practical, hands-on problems. Of course, there are certain things you can explain, but when you are on-site and you can help people by actually showing them what you mean, the result is guaranteed.

What surprised you or what didn’t work as expected?
What surprised me a little was that the customer found it very difficult to implement some new recipes (which they had requested).

I was very pleasantly surprised at the ease with which the relatively large changes in the workflows were accepted and implemented. Especially the changes that have led to a substantial increase in productivity.

How do you assess the customer’s situation after the corona pandemic?
As far as I know, the Casa Santa Lucia restaurant has already returned to the revenue level it had before the corona pandemic. The event catering is also going very well. You can definitely say that Casa Santa Lucia is on the road to success.