Round Up Part 2: Inspiring Ideas from Operators to Help Your Business During Crisis
Apr 29, 2020
Comfort Food Delivers Real Comfort, Better Margins
“Comfort food” isn’t just an indulgence, especially in times of social distancing. Comfort food has real, psychological and social benefits for many, and operators are shifting menus to help deliver comfort-based menu items people are craving. In Cary, N.C., operators of Postmaster, a high-end prime rib restaurant, switched to offering takeout cheeseburgers—both to meet demand for comfort food and so their margins made more sense in the age of delivery.
Social: Instagram: govt.cheeseburger Twitter: @newsobserver
No-Contact Delivery from On High
Operators at Dirty Water, a sports bar in Washington, D.C., have started a bucket delivery, sending down pre-mixed cocktails from their third-story window to patrons on the sidewalk. Not only a clever marketing trick, but also provides “no-contact” solution for multi-story or second-story spaces.
Social: @eaterDC @dirtywaterdc
Virtual Tasting Menus for Food and Wine Draw Crowds
In Atlanta, Tal Baum, owner of Aziza Israeli Cuisine and his team crew host regularly scheduled cooking classes via Facebook Live each week. The staff teaches classes on pasta and pizza or creating fresh hummus and pita, and patrons pick up ingredient kits and recipes from Baum’s shop prior to class time.
Social: @eaterAtlanta @azizarestaurant
Hyper-Focused Takeout Menu
By paring down to one specialty and focusing on promoting the unique value, operators are turning their kitchens into assembly lines. In less than 24 hours, Boston chef Karen Akunowicz turned her award-winning Fox & the Knife into a takeout spot for fresh pasta and specialty goods operation. Akunowicz is now selling pastas by the pound, various sauces, and sides that can be prepared at home.
Social: @FoxPastaBoston @foodandwine
Cold Calling is in Again
In Denver, Colo., food truck operator Joe Knoblich of Chuey Fu’s started cold calling apartment building management companies and HOAs to drum up business. By being able to deliver to many people in smaller geographic areas and offer something of value to a residential community, Knoblich is able to mimic the experience of being at an “event.” Knoblich and other “Trucksters” across the country are using social media and online ordering to get the word out about locations, letting people pre-order for pick up, and supplementing income with food kits and branded gear.
Social: @Chueyfus @303_Magazine
Soups, Condiments by the Quart
There is nothing like a good ranch dressing, or so say the operators of Pittsburgh’s historic Eat’n Park carhop chain. They’ve transitioned to completely drive-through, and have added quart-sized ranch dressing, bulk chicken tenders, quarts of potato soup, and have recently added toilet paper, veggies, bread and milk to the drive-through menu.
Social: @pittsburghpg @eatnpark
Set a Weekly Menu, Family Style
Josh Youmans, owner of Main Street Grill, in Medina, Tenn., joins millions of operators cooking up family-style meals—lasagna, alfredo, mixed grills, wings—with accompanying side dishes. The main difference with Youmans is committing to a set daily offering so the kitchen is just cooking large portions of a few dishes, catering style. The most innovative and popular drive-through, family-style creation so far: Youmans sitting outside dishing up seafood and corn in an old-fashioned shrimp boil, but instead of the guests milling around and mingling, they’re driving through and picking up the meal to-go. “I did that because I wanted to sit on my front porch and wave at people as they drive through because I miss them," Youmans said. "It turned out to be a hit."
Socially Distant Cheese and Wine Pairing Party
The renowned Commander’s Palace in New Orleans hosted a virtual, guided wine-and-cheese tasting. The pre-sold, ticketed event was priced at $99 and included an invitation for the virtual gathering, three bottles of French wine, two 8-ounce portions of artisanal cheese and assorted crackers. The cheeky “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” / French theme brought people together digitally on the night of the party and participants were encouraged to wear a beret to go along festivities.
“Emergency Tacos” Capture Humor in Marketing
Operators are tapping into local comfort foods or regional favorites to bundle. Wes Avila of Guerrilla Tacos in Los Angeles recognized that some people consider tacos an essential! His $150 “emergency taco kit” includes 5 pounds each of carne asada and roasted chicken, a quart each of red and green salsa, tortillas, 30 eggs, and four rolls of toilet paper. Avila called it a “true Angeleno survival pack” that captures the taco-loving culture of L.A.
Human-Powered Delivery Gets Attention
In downtown Naples, Fla., local favorite Sails Restaurant has put a fleet of wine delivery bikers on the streets to (no-contact) hand deliver wine from the restaurant’s extensive collection. Sails' has “wine bikes,” which means there is room for “margarita bikes,” “nacho bikes,” “fry bikes” and more to pedal something delicious to at-home patrons.
Concert Series from the Couch
Wild River Grille, in Reno, Nev., is launching a new to-go menu and digital concert series titled “Band Together.” Concerts will be livestreamed from the restaurant’s riverside patio and the link shared with patrons who’ve placed orders from the special “Band Together” takeout menu. “We’ve always looked to make the dining experience unique at Wild River Grille,” said owner Chuck Shapiro. “As our community continues to flatten the curve, we want to offer some variety in our patrons’ dine-at-home life. Band Together allows us to expand some operations to help our family of staffers and also start putting some of our local artists back to work.”
Social: @nvbizmag @wildrivergrillereno