Heartland Restaurant supports Bun Mee’s ambitious growth plans and shares its values of honesty and transparency

Bun Mee

Founded by Denise Tran in 2011, Bun Mee is a vibrant San Francisco-based restaurant that uses premium ingredients to create and serve elevated Vietnamese street food.

Tran, who’s originally from Vietnam, noticed that all the city’s banh mi shops were small mom and pop restaurants serving traditional versions of the sandwich in select neighborhoods.

So when she decided to open her own restaurant, Tran wanted to bring banh mi to the masses, while also providing an affordable meal option. Reflecting her personal values, Tran created a lively artisan eatery with open kitchens designed to give its customers visibility into what was happening behind the scenes.

When Tran and Austin Whittaker—Bun Mee’s director of operations—became frustrated with their old point-of-sale systems from MICROS and Toast, they looked for a new vendor who shared their values of openness, honesty and transparency.

“Prior to Heartland, we had issues with trying to figure out our credit card billing,” Whittaker says. “We constantly had to dig, dig, dig just to figure out what we were being charged.”

Their old providers also promised price matching, but taking advantage of those deals would require too much extra work.

“I don’t want to personally have to do a ton of research,” Whittaker explained.

By switching to Heartland and gaining full transparency into their credit card fees, Whittaker and Tran realized they could save significant amounts of money, which could be put to better use in other areas of the business.

In fact, when Whittaker calculated their savings, he estimated that using Heartland would save them between $20,000 and $30,000 in credit card fees for just a single location.

Those savings are especially vital for a company like Bun Mee, which is growing quickly.

Since Tran opened her first restaurant in 2011, Bun Mee has added three more locations, two of which were opened within a two-year period.

Five years ago, the company earned $1.8 million in revenue, but Whittaker is projecting that it’ll bring in $12 million to $13 million next year.

And it doesn’t have plans to slow down any time soon.

Our vision for the future holds 40 stores in 10 years.

Austin Whittaker, Director of Operations, Bun Mee
Austin Whittaker
Director of Operations, Bun Mee

“Our vision for the future holds 40 stores in 10 years,” Whittaker says.

That’s another reason Heartland Restaurant is such a great fit for Bun Mee. With Heartland’s cloudbased system, Whittaker has already found it easier to manage multiple locations.

“I’ve got a hundred employees … and five direct-report managers,” says Whittaker. “If my employees have a question, I can actually jump on the computer from a different location and … help them solve that problem,” he adds.

Whittaker also enjoys the convenience of being able to review sales, payroll and other information on multiple stores—all at the same time, and from any location.

Another benefit to working with Heartland POS is the solution’s ability to function with any payment processor.

“One thing for us was being able to have a system that would talk to another system,” says Whittaker. He notes that Bun Mee works with an online software platform called Restaurant Solutions.

“They told me Heartland is super easy to work with,” he adds. And Heartland isn’t just intuitive for partners. It’s also simple for employees who are training and need to get up to speed quickly.

“I have a tool that I can rely on that my employees will understand,” Whittaker says. “It’s just a welloiled machine.”

For a company that has built a loyal customer base thanks to its focus on quality, openness and value, Heartland has proven to be a beneficial, like-minded partner.

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