Success Story

How Buckhorn BBQ + Grill Switches to Data-Backed Decision Making

How the 8-unit chain makes targeted operational improvements by looking at high volumes of guest feedback data.

buckhorn bbq food

“Nothing is more important than setting clear goals that are doable.”

John Pickerel
Founder / President
Buckhorn BBQ + Grill

john pickerel buckhorn president founder
buckhorn bbq + grill slider


Real California BBQ

Born out of the success of the Tri Tip sandwiches at the Chef’s Market in Napa, Buckhorn Grill opened its first location in San Francisco in 1999, and soon became a family-friendly spot  for quality food and service. Best known for the California Cut, their signature Char-Roasted Tri Tip, guests can also enjoy a wide variety of barbeque, burgers, salads, sandwiches, and more at their restaurants located throughout Northern California.

Brand Overview

Integrations: Olo, Toast, Appfront
Locations: 8
Tattle partner since: 2023


Anecdotal Feedback Was Vague, Sparse and Untimely

Prior to Tattle, Buckhorn relied mostly on Yelp, Google and social media reviews to understand guest sentiment. However, these scattered reviews couldn’t produce trends and patterns that drive operational improvements.

In addition, these public reviews are rarely specific enough. For example, when a guest mentions “great food,” it’s hard to know whether it’s the ingredients, flavor, presentation or all of the above that the team was doing well.

On top of that, it’s extremely difficult to win back guests over online reviews. The team had to comment on a review, ask for the guest’s contact information, and then have that particular location’s manager reach out.

“Sometimes we wouldn’t hear back from guests,” said Eilleen Le, marketing manager at Buckhorn. “So we couldn’t follow up with them on their experience and recover them for a future visit.”

buckhorn bbq storefront
Tattle Customer Survey


Collecting Specific, Real-Time Guest Feedback at High Volumes

“We were really surprised by the influx of responses [after launching Tattle],” said Eilleen. “Just seeing that many guest survey submissions in real life was a game changer.”

Through integrations with Toast and Appfront, Tattle sends automated survey emails 90 minutes after a guest places an order online, directing them to a browser-based survey. For in-store orders, guests can scan a QR code displayed at the restaurants or visit the survey link located on their order receipt.

Each survey breaks down the top operational categories – such as Food Quality, Speed of Service, Accuracy and Hospitality — into underlying, actionable factors.

“Nothing is more important than setting clear goals that are doable. Just saying that we’re going to be better never accomplishes anything,” said John Pickerel, Founder of Buckhorn. “We must look at the specific drivers of our business and ask ourselves as a team: How we can achieve success with those drivers.”


Using Data to Make Objective, High-Impact Decisions

“The biggest challenge when pursuing excellence is to make sure that excellence is expressed in objective terms before you ask others to achieve that excellence,” said John.

Equipped with data evidence, the leadership team finds it much easier to explain to the team why they need to make a certain change.

For example, one General Manager noticed that there were several survey comments related to guests standing around and waiting for to-go orders under the “Speed of Service” category. Upon further investigation, the team realized that some to-go orders were sitting on the back counter instead of being distributed through the temperature-controlled “Food Pods.” The GM then made sure his team understood the order distribution process, and saw Speed of Service ratings instantly improve.

“Objectivity was my biggest challenge [as a leader],” said John. “And I think that it’s very clear now that Tattle can provide that objectivity with data, so that we can create clear goals as a team.”

tattle dashboard metrics
incident management tattle


Winning Back Guests Instantly in Real Time

While the executive team has access to all locations’ data, each GM, Assistant GM, and shift supervisors have access to their individual location’s dashboard in Tattle, and is responsible for responding to all feedback in a timely manner.

“We have a 72-hour policy for responding to guest feedback submissions,” said Eilleen. “Everyone on our team is involved in using Tattle and has gotten a lot of use out of the dashboard data and responses.”

Thanks to this instant way of responding to and keeping track of guest feedback, Buckhorn can easily ensure accountability across the board. Some GMs even go above and beyond, calling guests right after seeing a dissatisfied Tattle survey submission, and then follow up with an email.

“We have definitely seen repeat Tattle feedback with dashboard data and guests mentioning previous orders in their comments,” said Eilleen.

The Results


Survey Completion Rate


Guests Satisfied With Replies


Increase in Store Atmosphere Satisfaction

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