In the last few months, our industry has entered a new era. Many restaurants have been forced to close their doors to dine-in and pivot to other options to weather this storm and come out a viable business on the other side.
From offering curbside pickup and delivery, to creating streamlined menus and new offerings, we’re seeing many restaurant and foodservice operations not only turn on a dime but see success from their new revenue streams!
Whether you’ve been closed and are planning to re-open, or you want to finally crack the takeout and delivery code, below you’ll find examples of some of the resourceful ways operators are keeping diners engaged with meal kits and groceries, promotions, takeout and delivery and community giving.
Read the Special Edition of the Food Fanatics® magazine to learn what you can do now to survive and how to prepare for success on the other side.
Make-It-Yourself Kits and Family-Style Offerings
In addition to posting recipe videos showing how to create signature cocktails or other menu items at home, several restaurants are offering DIY meal kits to make it even easier to prepare the restaurant’s signature dishes (and drinks) at home. Other restaurants are making it easier to feed the whole family (or prep several days’ meals) by offering family-style dishes for takeout and delivery. Some operations are seeing so much success, that this will be a part of their strategy going forward. Get your meal kit strategy in order here.
● DIY Pizza Kit
With schools closed and an influx of families at home, interactive solutions for kids of all ages will catch customers’ eyes. Collegeville Italian Bakery in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, is providing a “make your own” pizza kit, which comes with all of the ingredients to make a 16” plain pizza. They also offer the option to add toppings for an additional charge.
● Pasta Meal Kit with Wine
This meal kit idea is perfect for diners looking to create restaurant-quality meals at home. Limerick Tavern in Los Angeles is offering a Pasta Care Package with everything needed to create the perfect pasta dish for 2 to 3 people. The ingredients are pre-portioned and the kit even includes a bottle of wine! When restaurants open for dine-in again, this could be a great new revenue stream that requires little to no labor.
● Cocktail Kits To Go
In addition to offering their food menu for takeout, Joe Mama’s Bar in Colgate, Wisconsin, didn’t forget about their excellent drink menu and surplus alcohol. Starting with a Moscow Mule kit, Joe Mama’s included all the ingredients to make a Tito’s Mule at home, including a reusable, branded souvenir cup. The Mule kits have been so successful, that they’ve expanded to more kits including Bloody Marys, screwdrivers, vodka lemonade, Old Fashioned cocktails and mimosas! While many states have relaxed liquor laws during this time, use the opportunity to drive extra revenue. Learn how to do alcohol to-go the right way here.
● Heating Instructions for Family Meals
The La Provence restaurant group in Portland created six different family meals such as Red Pesto Shrimp & Polenta, Ratatouille Pasta Bake and Chicken Cordon Bleu. Each family meal is freshly cooked, packaged, chilled and ready to reheat in the oven at home. In addition to including the reheating instructions with your order, the full heating instructions for all of their family meals are available on their website.
Don’t forget to promote your offerings! Getting your offerings out on your digital channels such as your website, social media and Google Business platforms are crucial to success. Not sure where to start? Watch our social media webinar on demand.
Takeout Specials for Holidays at Home
As Easter and Passover approached and social distancing remained, restaurants across the country had to adapt their usual Easter offerings for diners staying home. By providing easy heat-and-go meal kits and family-style packages, these restaurants were able to stay part of their customers’ holiday traditions while feeding the family at home. If you’re looking to create offerings for upcoming holidays, find some inspiration from these restaurants.
● Easter Preorder Family Meals
To help diners make it easy to #eatinforeaster, Twisted Oak Bar and Grill in Statesville, North Carolina, offered preorders of family meals on their Easter menu. Their take-and-bake model provided several options for entrees, sides and pies for dessert.
● An Easter Feast for Everyone
Horseshoe Grille in Reading, Massachusetts, made it a breeze for their diners to put an Easter feast on their tables. The preorder package included a honey baked ham, salad, mashed potatoes, choice of green beans or glazed carrots and corn bread. They also offered an individual ham dinner option for those quarantining solo or in a smaller household.
● Meals for Mom – with No Mess
Building on the success of their Easter menu, Rockaway River Barn in Rockaway, New Jersey, created Mother’s Day family style packages for groups of two or more. Dinner entrees included several sides and desserts. Breakfast package options can also help give mom the traditional “breakfast in bed” without making a mess in the kitchen.
Gift Card Incentives and Unique Promotions
For operations that are closed, build future demand and stay connected to your customers by reminding them to support you with gift card sales. Gift cards provide a cash infusion to your restaurant now, which your customers could redeem later when you reopen. Some operations are offering extra incentives to encourage gift card purchases, while others create eye-catching promotions to boost their takeout business.
● BOGO Gift Cards
In addition to supporting their community by offering 50% off to frontline workers and free eggs to families in need, El Jinete in Dawsonville, Georgia, also helped support their business with a gift card promotion. Through the end of March, for every purchase of a gift card, the customer was rewarded with a second gift card of the same amount for free.
● Free Toilet Paper with Takeout
With the zombie “mascot” at their Portland State University location helping to spread the word, Pizza Schmizza took a dark comedic approach with their promotion to incentivize takeout orders. They even gave out a free roll of TP with every order at several of their Portland-area locations!
Innovative Takeout Operations
Although many operations have had takeout offerings in place for several years, most operators still had to make changes in order to adapt. Curbside pickup has become a lifeline for many – some with unique approaches – and others have enhanced their takeout operations to help them adjust to the new normal.
● Custom Takeout Containers
Stickers are a quick and easy way to brand your takeout containers or bags with your logo. Celtic Corner in Hawthorne, New Jersey, created their own stickers for each container with a message thanking the customer for supporting the restaurant and reminding them to #supportlocal.
● Offering “Car Hop” Service
Traditionally a dine-in restaurant known for great dockside views, Bahrs Landing in Highlands, New Jersey, pivoted to allow customers to keep the views while still enjoying their beloved seafood. The restaurant offers a “car hop” service, delivering meals right to the diners’ car windows, allowing them to enjoy the feel of a waterfront meal, safely in their own cars.
● Designating Curbside Parking
In addition to promoting on their website, social media and roadside signage adertised that the restaurant was still open for takeout and delivery, Buckeye Tavern in Macungie, Pennsylvania, wanted to make it an even easier experience for diners when they came to pick up their takeout orders. The restaurant created signs to show designated spots for their takeout and curbside pickup, which allowed their employees to easily identify customers waiting for their orders. This practice will also help in the future, as takeout and delivery orders are crucial in the restaurants of tomorrow.
Pivoting to Retail and Hosting Pop-Up Shops
Thinking about venturing into the grocery game? You are not alone. Restaurants, healthcare facilities and hotels are jumping in and seeing success – some through a continuous option, others through hosting scheduled pop-ups.
From providing basic staples to fresh produce and high-quality meat and seafood products that foodie diners crave, the grocerant is taking off. See some examples below and learn how to get started with providing your customers a ‘one-stop shop’ here.
● The Ledger Basket
To save their customers a trip to the grocery store, Ledger Restaurant in Salem, Massachusetts, introduced the Ledger Basket. In addition to offering a selection of pantry staples, dairy, bread, seafood and meat, they also have a rotating selection of Manager Specials like fried chicken, shrimp and grits, braised pork shank and make-your-own burger packs. They even offer daily grocery delivery!
● Kō-än’s “K-mart”
Supporting their community in Cary, North Carolina, Kō-än Cary is offering fresh produce, meats, and dry goods for pick-up or delivery. Customers can call or place orders online daily for any of their available products. In addition to having paper checklists you can fill out when you arrive, they’ve pivoted their website to an e-commerce platform that customers can use to easily add items to their cart and place their order.
● Pop-Up Markets
In Austin, Texas, Treaty Oak Distillery hosts frequent pop-up markets offering a selection of produce, meats and shelf-stable items. They’ve also added cocktail kits and premade meal kits from their restaurant, Alice’s, to their available grocery and dry goods offerings. By implementing online ordering, they’re also been able to have contactless transactions.
Even in the most trying times, our industry continues to be a shining example of an industry united. Restaurants, hospitals and operations everywhere are doing what they can to support impacted workers, healthcare heroes and first responders. In a recent webinar poll, we found that over 60% of you are doing something to provide support, but only 40% were promoting it on your digital channels. Don’t be shy during this time! Tell your customers what you’re doing behind the scenes – it fosters community and will drive demand for your business now and in the future.
Find some inspiring examples from across the country below.
● Feeding Healthcare Workers
Pat’s Pizza & Bistro was so encouraged by support from their customers, they started using a portion of gift card sales to feed #healthcareheroes in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. For every $50 purchased in gift cards, Pat’s is delivering one large pizza to their local hospitals.
● Meals for Kids
Troy Elementary School’s Trojan Café didn’t stop preparing meals when the school closed. They began providing pick-up meals for food-insecure children in their district.
● Supporting Foodservice Workers
Immediately after the restaurant shutdowns began impacting the Atlanta area, Café Intermezzo took action. They formed the #feedingfoodservice initiative to provide thousands of meals starting with Easter and Passover weekends to impacted industry workers.