Old Juan's Cantina, Oceano Beach CA

Old Juan’s Cantina is a 44-year-old Mexican restaurant located in Oceano Beach, CA. It was founded by John “Old Juan” Verdin, who brought many of the restaurant’s dishes from his native Guanajuato, Mexico. Today, the second-generation cantina—which offers casual dining and a full bar—is operated by his children, Adam and Eva Verdin. 

They reached out to Hospitality Works to enhance their operations during COVID—and to best position the restaurant for what comes after COVID. Here’s what they have to say about their experience working with us.  

On Turning a Profit during COVID

“With Izzy’s help, we have been able to increase our per guest check an average of 33%, so even though in-dining guest count is lower due to COVID restrictions, on many occasions we’ve been able to match and occasionally exceed last year’s sales numbers.

Prior to COVID, our to-go business was 1% of total sales. Since COVID, we were able to achieve 60% of last year’s total sales, just on takeout.”   

On Improving Operations

“Izzy helped us remodel our bar and dining room to maximize guest experience, streamline front of house operations, and help with bar sales. He helped us improve our food and drink menu and worked with our vendor to streamline kitchen operations, saving us 2.0 hours of kitchen labor per day.

As a single-operator restaurant, you operate in a silo. You read things in trade magazines, and think you might try them, but…Izzy KNOWS! He knows what is and isn’t working, and he brought that industry knowledge to our little restaurant. He helped us become better operators.”  

On Staff Training 

“The training Izzy provided staff has been immensely helpful during COVID.  

He conducted staff training on the sequence of service—which has resulted in better service to the customer, better guest-check average, and better tips to the servers. 

He also implemented an additional process of measuring staffs’ relevant metrics and sharing it with them, so that each server knows how they are performing. As a result, our daily shift meetings are now better structured and more relevant to the staff.”