With three Michelin stars and a top spot on the extended World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, it’s safe to say that SingleThread restaurant is a premier dining destination. Nestled in wine country, this Healdsburg, California-based farm, restaurant and inn offers a locally sourced, 11-course tasting menu in a setting that’s as cozy as it is chic.
Since serving its first guests in 2016, Slack has been at the heart of SingleThread’s communication process. We recently sat down with the husband-and-wife founders and owners, Kyle and Katina Connaughton, to hear how Slack has been a vital ingredient in the restaurant’s success story.
SingleThread uses Slack to keep its kitchen in the know
When guests dine at SingleThread, they can trust that the vegetables, fruits, eggs and herbs on their plates are all freshly sourced from SingleThread’s farm. SingleThread also produces its own wine, honey, olive oil and floral arrangements.
“We have so many moving parts that are so interconnected,” explains Katina Connaughton, the head farmer. “We have the farm that speaks to the kitchen. We have floral that speaks to the kitchen. We have the kitchen that speaks to everything. We’ve got the farm and floral that are also speaking to the hotel. So we have so much interconnectivity.”
Katina says Slack is an essential part of her daily routine. Each morning, she scans the fields, heirloom orchard, greenhouse and shade structures to let the kitchen staff know which items are ready to harvest and the quantity they can expect.
“We have so many moving parts that are so interconnected. We have the farm that speaks to the kitchen. We have floral that speaks to the kitchen. We have the kitchen that speaks to everything.”
“That’s where Slack comes into play for me,” she says. “Say our first shoots of asparagus are coming up and I really want the kitchen to know. [I can say] here are your first shoots of asparagus and this is the quantity that I’m able to bring in today. [Slack] allows me to update availability in real time and send photos so that the kitchen can get a sense of what’s coming in just a few hours.”
To complement the dining experience, SingleThread devotes just as much attention to its floral arrangements as its food. Katina described a similar process for using Slack channels to communicate with the floral team.
“I relay very similar information to our floral team so that they can get a sense of what color palette they’re going to be working with, the length of certain stems and textures … so they can create their narrative well before the flowers even get here,” Katina says.
Slack helps SingleThread make the most of every resource
Operating a world-class kitchen requires organization, agility and speed. Candice Koseba, SingleThread’s culinary liaison, forager and beekeeper, says Slack is the communication tool that keeps pace with the kitchen.
“I help to bring product from the wild to the kitchen, and all across the dining room,” Koseba explains. “[With Slack] there’s no wasted time or wasted product because you’re able to communicate things right away.”
Slack’s archive capabilities also give her rich insights into which ingredients did well previously. “I’m able to approach every season with a heads-up to what happened last season because it’s all right there.”
How SingleThread serves a seamless guest experience
Dining at SingleThread is about more than fine cuisine; it’s about providing guests with the warmth they’d receive if they were dining in the Connaughtons’ home.
For Kyle Connaughton, SingleThread’s chef, a great guest experience means minimizing distractions. One way SingleThread accomplishes that is by creating hand signals to facilitate communication between the servers and kitchen staff. For example, particular signals are used to indicate a guest’s preference for still or sparkling water.
“That allows for the guest to get water into their glass immediately, and it also cuts down on the need for [the server] to say, ‘Table 13, position one is sparkling water, position two is still water.’ It just takes that verbal-like clutter out of the space,” Kyle says.
Slack also helps SingleThread staff communicate guest preferences. Top channels include:
#generalfor sharing information that applies to everyone on the SingleThread team
#bookingfor sharing information about reservation dates, dietary restrictions, allergies, accommodations and other relevant guest information
#farm-kitchen, for ensuring seamless communication between the farm and culinary teams. SingleThread says this channel is the “lifeblood” of the entire operation.
For SingleThread, collaborative and agile communication is key to running a world-class dining destination. “For us, everything is about doing anything that we can to create the best possible experience for our guests,” Kyle says. “Slack is the main way that we do that.”