The Perfect Scalable Accounting Solution for Steve’s Poké Bar

Steve’s Poké Bar, a quick-service restaurant chain, was born when Steve Huynh and his wife Camy wanted to share their love of Hawaiian poké, a raw fish rice bowl, with fellow Vancouverites. It’s taken off with 10 locations and counting in malls and universities across Greater Vancouver.

Steve's Poke Bar Case study

Steve's Poke Bar Case Study

It’s hard to believe that prior to 2015, poké was relatively unheard of in Vancouver, a city that boasts over 600 sushi restaurants. 

Steve Huynh and his wife, Camy Wong, took advantage of this market opportunity and opened their first poké bar in 2017 at a local university. From the beginning, they knew that one location was not going to be enough. What if you went to university, fell in love with poké, and then couldn’t get it after you finished your degree? 

Quickly, Steve’s Poke Bar expanded from one location to many, and keeping up with the books became a challenging task.

The Challenge

Camy, VP of Finance, was more than qualified to take on the financial side of the business. But as first-time restaurateurs, there was a steep learning curve. After opening the second location, she found herself having a hard time maintaining the books whilst focusing on growth: finding new locations, managing lease agreements, and improving operations.

Coding errors
Coding Errors

At this point, Camy brought in a small bookkeeping firm to help. At first, things were great, but then the firm was acquired by a major accounting firm and things started to change. She was no longer receiving the same care and attention she was given with the smaller firm. She started to find mistakes – mistakes that she could catch, but wouldn’t expect many other small business owners to notice. 

For example, cost of goods (COGS) was too high for one month and too low the following month due to the bookkeeping coding errors. Given their growth plans, inaccurate financials were not acceptable. As a result, she had to stay involved and review their books closely to ensure the books were being accurately managed. 

Additional complexity
Added Complexities with Holding Company 

As they grew, they also had to evolve their operational processes. When there were only a few restaurants, Steve would make the sauce himself. However, as more locations opened, it was no longer feasible for Steve to continue being the “Sauce Fairy”. 

Instead, they found a manufacturer to make their family’s secret sauce and opened a holding company that pays for and holds the sauces. However, that was when Camy noticed more mistakes from her old bookkeeper. 

When a location needs sauce, they sign it out of the holding company and send their order to a centralized accounts payable email account. There is a transaction that is then recorded on the books of the holding company (a receivable) and the books of the restaurant (a payable) to track the amounts owing between the companies. When Camy started noticing discrepancies with how the sauces were tracked, that was her final straw and she knew that she needed a new bookkeeping team. 

The Solution

With a strong vision for how the accounting should be managed, Camy looked to other vendors to take over their books. After meeting with Enkel, she felt confident that the team could handle their restaurants and the complexity that comes with the holding company.
Customized processes
Customized processes

It was important to Camy not to deviate far from the way she had set things up for their locations. Camy needed certain tasks done in a specific way and the team accommodated her needs, and customized a solution that would fit her process and work for her.

New lcoations
New Locations

Enkel now handles the bookkeeping for all of Steve’s Poké Bar restaurants as they open. When opening a new location, Camy simply uses the template from another location on QBO (i.e. list of suppliers, inventory, customizations for payables or employee reimbursements). She never has to start a new location from scratch, saving her time while ensuring consistency across all their locations.

Camy Wong, VP of Finance, Steve's Poké Bar Photo
Even though my process wasn’t the best practice that Enkel recommended, they never flinched and used my workflow as it best fit our business needs.”
-   Camy Wong, VP of Finance, Steve's Poké Bar

The Results

Aligned expectations

When kicking off with Enkel, Camy made her expectations known and Enkel did the same – if expectations aren’t aligned, then the relationship won’t be successful. 

The process and workflow were carefully evaluated, ensuring the right tools were being used. With cloud software, Camy also has access to all files and documents, so should a question or audit arise, she’s equipped with the answers. 

Accurate coding & time savings

Camy is now confident that she can depend on her books done by Enkel. She only spends a few hours a month on bookkeeping for all locations and no longer worries about incorrect coding with the holding company.

Camy Wong, VP of Finance, Steve's Poké Bar Photo
At the end of the day, we’re looking at our cost of goods, labour costs, and the bottom line. With Enkel, we now have books we can rely on to evaluate the performance of our locations. And I now only spend a few hours a month on bookkeeping. This frees me up to open new locations and spend time with our 4 kids. ”
-   Camy Wong, VP of Finance, Steve's Poké Bar