Nestled inside a trendy food hall, there sits a restaurant dedicated to serving up deliciously unique Vietnamese street food patrons would otherwise have a hard time finding in the city of Houston.
The Blind Goat is described as a “modern Vietnamese gastropub,” but perhaps the real draw for some is that the restaurant is the latest venture for “MasterChef” Season 3 winner Christine Ha and her husband, John Suh. In fact, it’s Ha’s first-ever restaurant.
Ha began losing her vision at 19 due to a rare immune disease called neuromyelitis optica and became the first blind chef to win the highly competitive cooking show seven years ago. Suh said she “became a sensation” after her victory and made a career out of sharing her story and her cooking skills across the country.
“Since she is sight impaired, people were always saying ‘how does a blind person cook in the kitchen,’ and so her full-time job really became a public speaker and she was doing a lot of cooking demos and such,” Suh said.
According to Suh, a potential investment opportunity is what eventually brought around the idea of starting a restaurant, which resulted in the Blind Goat opening in Houston’s Bravery Chef Hall.
“They approached us and said ‘hey there’s a Vietnamese concept that needs funding, why don’t you invest?’ And we actually knew the chef. We were going to invest in his concept, but the chef ended up getting poached by David Chang from Momofuku in New York,” he said.
“So the Bravery guys approached us and said ‘hey we have a spot open for a Vietnamese concept, why don’t you and Christine do it?’ And so we kind of fell into it that way, we had no intention of becoming a vendor inside the food hall.”
The Blind Goat has now been open since this summer, serving up a “modern take on street food,” such as the popular goat curry and beef carpaccio.
“We’ve been to Vietnam many times and there’s a lot of really good Vietnamese street food that we just don’t see in Houston,” Suh said. “So we took some of those dishes that we really enjoy in Vietnam on the streets and try to make a modern version of it to bring to the Houston market.”
With around 18 staff members running the restaurant, Suh obviously needed to find a suitable employee management solution—but the HotSchedules app he initially used just wasn’t cutting it.
“I’ve never looked into any kind of employee management software because I’ve never owned a business with employees, and at the time everyone in the hall was set on using HotSchedules,” he said. “My full-time job is a UI/UX developer, and looking at HotSchedules, I was like, ‘did Microsoft make this in the 90s? It looks so terrible.’ The user experience was really bad too.”
Suh heard about Homebase from a friend and switched over soon after creating an account and logging in for the first time, describing the platform as “a more modernized app that much easier to use.”
Hiring with Homebase
I’ve been using it a lot, it’s really convenient that it posts on ZipRecruiter, Facebook, and Craigslist,” he said. “It saves me a good amount of time because I don’t have to try and get the job posted on different sites.”
Suh also commended the app’s ability to give insight on job candidates’ previous work performance as well.
“If the employee has worked for another company that uses Homebase, they come with badging that gives me more confidence that the person might be a good candidate. I can see things like, ‘this person got five shout outs and was on time 90% of the time.’”
Break Alerts and Integration
Keeping track of breaks is a major component in staying compliant with both state and federal labor laws, so Suh appreciates the alerts Homebase’s Timesheet App provides on the matter.
“I definitely like the reports I get, like ‘x amount of people are not taking their breaks,’ or ‘these people aren’t clocking out for their breaks,’ which I really value,” he said.
Additionally, Homebase’s integration with Toast provides even more value for Suh thanks to the reporting on important statistics.
“I really like that the app connects with Toast so that I can see my labor percentage and my sales numbers so when I’m scheduling out the following week,” he said. “I can see what the sales average should be for the day and I can see what my labor is costing that day. So it helps me tell my manager, ‘you need to staff x amount on this day because it’s usually slow and staff up on this day because it’s usually busy,’ so that’s really nice.”
Finally, when asked what his employees think about using Homebase, Suh said they were happy to make the switch.
“They think the scheduling component is much better than HotSchedules, and the app is free, which is nice,” he said.
With the combination of a great chef, great food, and great tools to operate the restaurant with ease, it’s no surprise that customers are raving about the Blind Goat.
“Honestly amazing and worth the trip,” one Yelp reviewer wrote. “I opted for the G.O.A.T. curry. This meat was so exceptionally tender, paired with the perfectly spicy curry sauce. OHMYGAH. Not to mention, service was exceptional. Everyone was friendly and more than willing to make recommendations.”