Steamed to Perfection: Bao Brothers’ Journey From Market Stall to Multi-location QSR with Square.

Sep 1, 2023

They say family and business shouldn’t mix, but Bao Brothers is here to prove they can.

Founded by brothers-in-law Dave and Nathan, the pair view their familial ties as a strength, even if Nathan’s wife (Dave’s sister) wishes they could discuss something else for once.

“We can talk about pretty much anything – it just gives us the freedom to say what we need to. At the end of day, we’re in it for the long haul,” says Nathan.

During a trip to the States, Dave noticed bao was quite the hit there, but hadn’t really made its mark in Australia yet. “I thought, this could be something different to bring to Newcastle.”

One Sunday afternoon at the pub, Dave and Nathan start discussing the opportunity; the next minute they’re in the kitchen testing some recipes. “We just decided to go for it,” says Dave.

Giving it a crack

Soon, the pair had their first food stall at the Newcastle Farmers Market. But as exciting as it was, it was a tough first day. “I felt like we couldn’t sell a bottle of water, let alone a bao – it just felt really difficult,” says Dave.

Despite the challenging start, the pair persisted, going from a market stall to a food trailer, a food truck, to a hole-in-the-wall shop, before finally opening their first flagship store in Charlestown, NSW.

Creating systems that can scale

Now with four stores, including one franchise, the dynamic duo needed a POS system that would help them scale.

“We trialed a few different products. We were looking for something that was user friendly, looks smart, and also has great reporting, which is particularly important when you’re franchising,” says Dave.

“We’re a fast paced QSR model, so we want to be efficient wherever we can,” says Nathan. “Square has streamlined the way customers order, from pick up, to the kitchen operations – it flows really well.”

Bao Brothers also adopted Square KDS, running orders directly from QR codes, online, or counter orders directly to a digital screen in the kitchen.

“We used to run paper dockets, which we’ll never get back to. It was just an uncontrollable mess – the kitchen would get flooded with dockets, but KDS has improved that 100%,” says Nathan.

The pair were adamant to keep their customer loyalty program, and after a quick transition, they were set up with Square Loyalty. Paired with Square Marketing, Nathan and Dave can not only reward customers with points, but they can also create special offers based on their customers’ purchase habits.

“A customer might enjoy the Chicken Bao, so we’ll give them a promo based on that product,” says Nathan. “We also hold double point days to reward our loyal returning customers.”

Growing into the future

What’s next for the brothers? Grow, grow, grow! With a franchise model, and a simple back-end they can essentially copy-and-paste for each new site, the pair hope to expand across NSW and beyond to upwards of thirty stores. “We have pretty ambitious plans to make bao synonymous with pizza, burgers, sushi, and burritos,” says Nathan.

Square will also be exhibiting at this year’s Fine Food Australia. Meet the team and see what solutions they have on offer for your business at Stand H15 this September. Register free online here.


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