Taking a Lot Off His Plate | Casita Miro Restaurant
Spearheading the marketing for a thriving Waiheke Island restaurant means he’s got a lot on his plate. That’s why Will Thorpe of Casita Miro loves having a website that lightens his load by making updating quick and easy.
Casita Miro’s origins lie in Waiheke Island’s Miro Vineyard, founded by couple Cat Vosper and Barnett Bond. What began simply as tapas served to visitors to go with the wine soon evolved into a full-blown restaurant. Now Casita Miro is a regular fixture in Metro magazine’s annual Top 50 Restaurants list, bon vivants flocking to the restaurant for its Spanish cuisine and vibrant atmosphere. “If someone asks, ‘Can we get a quiet corner table?,’” muses Casita’s general manager, Will Thorpe, himself a trained chef. “Well, there isn’t one.”
Casita’s first website wasn’t really a website at all—just a single page piggybacking off Miro Vineyard’s site. As demand for Cat’s food grew, so did the need for a dedicated website. But Will wasn’t keen to use the same provider as they’d used for the Miro Vineyard site, which he’d found clunky and hard to use. “The user interface was impossible,” Will recalls. “You couldn’t insert pictures where you wanted them to go. Fonts, text, all sorts—you couldn’t do anything without ringing someone up.” The result was a website that was “hopelessly out-of-date”.
Will heard about Rocketspark from Merediths, another lauded restaurant that already had their site with Rocketspark. Rather than making preliminary inquiries, Will decided to try it out for himself taking advantage of the free 30-day trial. “I filled out the whole website in two days,” says Will. “Grant [Johnson, Rocketspark co-founder] called me and said ‘It looks great—do you want to go live with it?’” The trial had impressed Will enough that he was ready to take the plunge. “It was that easy. It was incredibly straightforward.”
“The outcome has been bloody good for us,” Will says. He cites a number of different features that he has found particularly useful. There’s the fact that he can upload a printed menu as a PDF to the website efficiently, something that used to be a much more involved process. There’s the built-in search engine optimisation features that have enabled him to improve Casita’s Google rankings over time. And there’s also the availability of staff ready to offer help whenever it’s needed. “Even if all you could do was put in text or pictures and could edit your text with links—that’d be cool. But what I like about Rocketspark is that I can go to Greg [Wallace, account manager] and say, ‘This would be cool’ or ‘Is there a way to do this?’ and it’s good to know that they’re always thinking about the next step. It’s not static.”
And Will’s not the only one enthusiastic about the Casita site. “People really like our website and we often get really good comments on it.” One thing that particularly stands out about the site is just how many different aspects Will utilises, making full use of Rocketspark’s blogging and e-commerce capacities, not to mention running email and social media campaigns—all part of Casita’s ethos of creating “buzz, rather than just trying to sell things all the time.” Wringing out every last drop of usefulness can be slow-going: “It can be quite time-consuming when you’re trying to do it alongside other things. Trying to keep it interesting all the time and not just do the same things.” But even if dreaming up fresh content takes time, publishing it on the Rocketspark platform is relatively undemanding. “It makes my time a lot more efficient.”
Efficiency is valuable to the busy manager. Will took on the management position at Casita Miro after 20 years working in kitchens in order to have more time to spend with his young family. The role still places a lot of demands on his time—but fiddly, complicated web-editing isn’t one of them.
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