Preserving history, embracing innovation with Dojo

Located in the heart of London’s vibrant Covent Garden, Rock & Sole Plaice stands as an emblem of culinary excellence and timeless indulgence. With a storied history dating back to 1871, this iconic eating spot is the oldest fish and chip shop in London and has served up quality food for generations.

Arjan Gjorga was one of the thousands of patrons who have returned to Rock & Sole Plaice time and time again down the years. Arjan has two decades of experience in the F&B sector and knows good produce when he tastes it. So, when the owners approached him to manage the restaurant three years ago, he jumped at the chance. 

I knew there were some issues at the start of the pandemic, and I thought it would be such a shame to see it disappear or change from a fish and chip shop,” he says. 

Arjan has overseen the day-to-day running and business plan for Rock & Sole Plaice since, upholding its legacy for nourishing Londoners and tourists with the finest fish and chips the capital has to offer. 

One thing that has changed over recent years is how people like to pay. Whereas previously cash was king, customers now like the convenience of contactless, using cards, phones and even watches to tap and go. 

Rock & Sole Plaice has offered card and contactless payments to customers for some time, but staff regularly reported problems with the software. Last year, Arjan installed new tills and machines, but issues persisted. 

I was in a neighbour’s shop and saw he was using Dojo,” he says. “I knew immediately how it could help my business and solve my staff’s issues. I made up my mind straight away that I would deploy Dojo, and it’s been a complete success.

The staff are happy – there are no more complaints that the technology or hardware doesn’t work. Dojo makes our lives so much easier, especially when the restaurant is bustling.” 

“Suddenly, we became fully booked.”

Once Arjan and his team got hands-on with Dojo’s technology and restaurant management system – Dojo bookings – they quickly saw the transformative impact it could have. Tables had previously been allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, but during busy periods (which is practically always in Covent Garden), queues could build up and make service challenging. 

Dojo bookings enables restaurants to take bookings through its customer-facing app – a feature Arjan says he didn’t even know about when he signed up. With this feature, they’re bringing in more bookings than before, with an average increase of 15% in table turnover.

Suddenly, we became fully booked. Dojo’s RMS regularly brings in 150 bookings a day, which is incredible for the business. Customers tell me how easy it is to book through Dojo – it’s two clicks, and it’s done. It’s not something we’d thought about previously.

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Taking uncertainty out of cash flow

Like many businesses, the global pandemic hit Rock & Sole Plaice hard. The usually packed streets of central London fell silent, shutting all shops and restaurants overnight. But rents, taxes and business rates still had to be paid – meaning Arjan looked to a couple of high street banks for help. 

We were shut throughout, but we still had to pay the landlord, and we also needed to renew the lease on the property. I went to one bank and was offered a loan of £500. I remember saying to my business partner that they must have been having a joke. What use is that?

After being turned down by both his personal bank and another high street bank, Arjan went to Dojo for help. Without hassle and delays, Dojo approved Arjan immediately. As a small business in need, Arjan appreciated Dojo stepping in to help where it mattered most.

But Dojo told me that I could borrow money through its business funding product and that repayments would move up and down with [a fixed percentage of] our takings as we reopened. The rates were very reasonable, and it gave us access to funds when we really needed them. It’s definitely something I’d use again in the future if I were making improvements to the restaurant.

Eliminating errors and saving time with integrated payments

Arjan is also quick to praise the speed of the Dojo machines – “there’s no waiting for customers, two seconds and the payment goes through.” Not only are the Dojo machines “extremely fast” – saving time and money – but moving to an integrated system means they eliminate human errors from miskeying. With Dojo’s ability to take integrated payments directly at the table, there’s no longer the need for staff to go to the till, print a receipt and then return to the table to accept payment – shaving off time and room for error.

Equally, Arjan has been impressed by how quickly he receives his takings since Dojo transfers all payments next day, even on weekends and bank holidays.

With previous providers, I’ve had to wait up to five days to receive money, especially during holidays or over weekends. Waiting two or three days is certainly very common in the food industry. Knowing that Dojo deposits all of your takings overnight provides certainty and control over our cash flow.”

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