While meal kit services have become a fixture over the past few years, the subscription service model represents all-new terrain for restaurants. Prior to COVID-19, purchasing a meal subscription from your favorite restaurant did not even exist as a concept. Now, it’s become the latest innovation in a yearslong shift away from tradition restaurant sales towards takeout. Customers sign up for a plan with their favorite restaurant, and their meals are delivered or picked up at a predetermined time. Subscriptions provide business with steady, reliable income amidst all the uncertainty.
With mere hours to collect themselves after the closure orders were sent out, many restaurants are reckoning with what to do with surplus inventory. To move the inventory before it spoils, several restaurants have started selling their ingredients in bulk, either to other business or directly to the consumers, sometimes right from the store.
“We’re calling it a pantry minimart,” says Belinda Carrasco, owner of Josy’s Grill in Odessa, Texas. “We set up mini traffic cones to attract attention and direct customers to our store, where up to ten customers are allowed in at a time to purchase takeout food or shop at our pantry mini mart.”
At this point, you’ve probably seen them on social media: #TakeoutTuesday #TakeoutTakeover #CarryoutWednesday #TheGreatAmericanTakeout. Participating in national hashtag campaigns can amplify your brand and help you reach new audiences. Make sure you also tag your location (city or district, not physical address) so that local customers can easily find you while browsing.
If you don’t have time to manage your social media marketing, online make it quick and easy. Over the last three weeks, companies have created hundreds of free social media posts to help restaurants with their messaging and promotions through the Coronavirus. Here are some ways their customers have gotten creative.
Meal donations are becoming more popular as people reckon with how to best support local communities and their favorite restaurants. Meal donations are a great way to accomplish both. Some kitchens have switched over completely to a donation model, where every meal purchased goes to medical first responders, out-of-work food service employees at-risk communities, and anyone else on the frontlines fighting against COVID-19. Other restaurants have used a “Buy two meals, we donate one” promotion to help give back while maintaining some normal sales.
Alcoholic drinks are a high-margin menu item and generally represent anywhere from 20–30 percent of a restaurant’s sales. In light of this, many states have lifted their laws on alcohol delivery, allowing restaurants to serve sealed drinks to go. Restaurants have responded in varied and creative ways with Cocktail Kits, Take Home Margarita Mix, Whiskey Tasters, and Blood Mary Makings.