What happens when you put some grapes and a few slices of prosciutto alongside a handful of olive crackers? Most people see a fun little snack to take on a picnic. However, Kayla Pietrzak, hospitality industry veteran and Senior Implementation Specialist at SpotOn, saw the recipe for a new business venture.

Before trying one herself, Kayla first saw these small platters on various social media sites like TikTok and Instagram. What seemed like a simple plate of proteins, pickled veggies, fruits, and cheeses quickly became a viral sensation overnight, with creative foodies celebrating the boards in their own special ways.

Thanks to her time in the hospitality industry, Kayla knew how much people craved a new food trend, and how restaurants hoped to build a similar sense of excitement for their own dishes. That’s why, when Kayla and her best friend turned business partner, Alexis, discovered the art of charcuterie, they knew it would take Saginaw, Michigan by storm.

A charcuterie board array of different food organizes onto a table.
Charcuterie boards appeal to the eyes and the taste buds.

Kayla didn’t always have a sixth sense for fun food adventures. Before joining SpotOn, she’d worked as a server in different restaurants and bars throughout Michigan. While these serving jobs started as a simple way to pay the bills, she soon got a masterclass in restaurant operations. Each day, restaurant staff handle typical guest requests. While most of these demands were fairly easy to fulfill, like a wrong drink order or a need for extra napkins, she soon understood how far a restaurant would go to ensure every guest paid their bill feeling satisfied.

If someone felt their food was a little overcooked, Kayla watched the manager communicate with servers and chefs to make sure the guest got a new meal right away. Afterward, her manager would show Kayla how she could glean guest preferences by simply conversing and asking the right questions at the right time. After a few years, she could talk any stubborn guest into ordering a gourmet burger with a custom cocktail, all without even glancing at a menu.

Once she graduated from college, Kayla started working with an Anheuser-Busch distributor based in Michigan, an alcohol distribution company based in Michigan. Each day, she’d drive to different bars and restaurants all over Michigan and sell different alcoholic beverages, which these restaurants and bars would then sell to guests. At first, Kayla assumed the new job would feel like an entirely different field of work. Yet as she talked to more restaurant managers, showing them that she wasn’t trying to make a quick profit, Kayla understood that every dimension of the hospitality industry is connected, from the servers to the distribution drivers. It all came down to the type of service and the guests.

Over time, Kayla discovered that certain bars were more likely to buy larger quantities of recognizable beer brands over specialized craft drinks simply because the clientele craved familiar drinks that didn’t require a tasting beforehand. Meanwhile, fine-dining restaurants preferred the usual brands alongside specialized drinks that could be listed on a menu next to the hors d'oeuvres and main dishes. In many ways, she still utilized her business conversation skills she learned as a server, where she’d talk to guests about their food orders. Instead of selling tantalizing eggrolls to a four-top, she was selling a variety of alcoholic products for bars and restaurants all over Michigan.

7 women with SpotOn t-shirts smile after a day of working with restaurants.
Kayla (third from the right) loves working with her SpotOn team.
“My experience as a server gave me a little bit more empathy when talking to clients about their install expectations. They’re much more comfortable knowing I’ve been in their shoes, that I know what I'm talking about.”

While the job was a great way to gain more experience and meet more people in the hospitality industry, Kayla felt burned out from driving nearly 700 miles a week. Every weekend, Kayla and her friend Alexis would gather to unwind and chat over a bottle of wine. They called their little gatherings the Finer Things Club, a cheeky homage to their favorite show, The Office, where characters would meet to discuss books and dine on different snacks between goofy workplace situations. While Kayla and Alexis weren’t dealing with as many hilarious antics as the show, they both found that a snack plate and wine provided the perfect fuel to catch up on life events.

One night when they were both sharing a glass and talking about the latest Instagram trends, Kayla brought up charcuterie and how fun they looked. As they drank more wine and searched for different types of charcuterie boards, Kayla eventually asked Alexis—what if we tried this on our own?

That meeting of the Finer Things Club quickly turned into a tipsy yet productive brainstorming session. Kayla and Alexis started looking up nearly every viral TikTok video on the craft of charcuterie, trying to understand what makes a board so appealing beyond the quality of the wood that served the fruit and salty snacks. And by the time they finished their bottle of wine, Kayla and Alexis built an Instagram page for their business, drafted business cards, sketched out different logos, and even had a name ready to go. Thus, Fig & Honey was born.

“I remember waking up that next morning expecting a hangover,” says Kayla. “Instead, I felt this weird excitement, thinking about all the work we’d accidentally done last night. I was questioning if it was all real. I even turned to Alexis and asked her, ‘Did we just start a business?’”

Two women business owners smile in front of a charcuterie business.
Kayla (left) and Alexis (right) are both proud of all they've done with Fig & Honey, especially at their storefront

When Kayla and Alexis soonafter opened Fig & Honey’s online store, they felt lucky to serve 10 people a week, even if those customers were local friends and family. Yet as more and more people heard about the different board options, orders skyrocketed. And with the ongoing pandemic forcing everyone indoors like chickens in a coop, the charcuterie boards offered a perfect way to transform another boring night on the couch into a catered culinary experience. Customers could enjoy a board on the front porch, a candlelit kitchen table, or even right inside the bedroom.

Fig & Honey quickly surpassed 10 orders a day, forcing Kayla and Alexis to recruit friends and family just to deliver their incoming orders. Kayla never wanted excited customers to chase them down for a charcuterie board. She even made a point to prioritize their contactless delivery methods for potential customers so nobody felt limited by their location. The accessible delivery experience, especially during the pandemic, was just as important as the food itself.

Three chefs smile in front of their charcuterie board and cones for sale.
Kayla and Alexis love showing off their creativity with charcuterie boards and cones.

Amid Fig & Honey’s exciting growth, Kayla started working at SpotOn as a member of the restaurant POS implementation team. A close friend of hers, who recently joined the company, told Kayla how she’d be a perfect fit given her restaurant and bar experience. Now, instead of selling drinks to guests or different businesses, Kayla was helping restaurants build their menus on their new point-of-sale system. Since she’d been the server who fumbled over tech, she never wanted to see someone fall into those same mistakes and leave guests waiting as a result. At first, most restaurant managers were skeptical of Kayla. How could someone from a tech company just waltz into their kitchen and know their operations that well?

I love how SpotOn still lets me use my personal experience to still work with restaurant and bar managers. They’re just my kind of people.

To show she wasn’t some newcomer repeating a pre-written script, Kayla approached each SpotOn client just as she’d meet a guest sitting at a table in a restaurant, answering questions regarding their own menu to show she also wanted to improve operations as much as the managers themselves. What was their most popular menu item? What’s the one dish that takes the longest to order? What makes certain service foods more popular than other alternatives?

With everything she’s seen before joining SpotOn, Kayla knows restaurant managers and staff want efficiency, even if they have a hard time seeing the small cracks in their ordering system that might slow down operations. “When I’m helping restaurants program a menu on their point-of-sale,” says Kayla, “I’ll ask both the manager and the servers in particular how people order off the menu.” She knew from her time as a server that adding popular modifications to a menu would be a huge time saver if implemented correctly. Every restaurant has their best-sellers, but not many know about their best modifications. “If a ton of guests want a menu item to be extra crispy, I tell them it’ll be worthwhile to include an option on the point-of-sale to make it easier for everyone.”

Two women in front of a table, selling charcuterie cones to a customer.
Kayla and Alexis show customers the latest holiday charcuterie cones.

At the end of a work day, when most people expect to clock out from the industry entirely, Kayla would jump from her SpotOn job right back into her responsibilities at Fig & Honey. Juggling two jobs is never easy, but thanks to all that hard work, Kayla and Alexis expanded Fig & Honey’s footprint to include a physical storefront in 2021. They wanted a place where guests could physically walk in and order a variety of charcuterie-inspired food items alongside their classic board options. Guests could even order olive oil tasting flights, sample different brie cheese and combinations, and enjoy handheld charcuterie cones all while browsing an expanded product selection.

We knew more options meant more curiosity. That’s why we implemented a base menu with the core skeleton products, while growing with new items. Guests love trying something new.

When more guests discovered that Fig & Honey wasn’t some grocery store cheese aisle, Kayla and Alexis got an offer that they couldn’t refuse. A potential buyer had noticed Fig & Honey. At the time, Kayla and Alexis were both planning on expanding Fig & Honey’s physical location to serve more guests, maybe get a liquor license to serve drinks, and build their general outreach as a business. However, after some deep reflection, Kayla and Alexis decided it was time to pass Fig & Honey onto new hands. Alexis missed spending time with her daughter at soccer practice, while Kayla wanted to focus on her growing responsibilities at SpotOn.

That doesn’t mean Kayla will forget the Fig & Honey experience. She’s proud to have brought such an exciting new food idea to her town. Most residents in Michigan hadn’t heard of the word “charcuterie” at all, let alone even considered buying these millennial Lunchables. When they announced the news on their social media, Kayla was honored to see over 800+ reactions from people worried if they’ll ever get their favorite types of charcuterie again. Now that Michigan has a little bite of Fig & Honey, Kayla and Alexis can finally kick back with a bottle of wine again and appreciate a job well done.

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