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50 Great Ideas 2020

50 Great Ideas 2020

Meals with a soundtrack

A number of restaurant operators, looking to bring the dine-in experience to people’s homes, created on-brand playlists. Red Lobster’s featured romantic tunes for date night, while Zaxby’s created a set of ambient restaurant sounds with titles such as “Friday 9:45 PM.”

50 Great Ideas 2020

Donations from the heart

For a $25 donation to help keep the restaurant afloat, Romano’s Macaroni Grill locations etched fans’ names on a heart stone placed at the hostess stand. A special ceremony will be held for all contributors later in the year.

Along with breads and other baked goods, Chicago bakery Baker Miller created colored organic play doughs to sell as a kids activity for families sheltering at home; they’re scented with herbs and spices.

Chains such as Dunkin’ and Taco Bell created Zoom-friendly backgrounds to remind consumers of their brands, even when dining rooms are closed.

Chicago fine-dining sister concepts Sepia and Proxi “rescheduled” their Mother’s Day promotions for August, when they will be giving complimentary glasses of rose to moms celebrating the holiday with their families after social-distancing restrictions have eased.

A number of restaurant chains have tried to help their employees through a bleak time by providing free meals as a perk.

Before the pandemic closed its dining room, RTE 47 in Yorkville, Ill., often hired musicians to perform there.

Brennan’s in Houston employed its chefs to prepare its signature dishes for H-E-B markets, giving the restaurant a new revenue stream and keeping staff working.

Wichita, Kan., chain Chick N Max was selling boxed meals at a deep discount to help people impacted by the pandemic.

Jones Bar-B-Q in Kansas City, Kan., installed a refrigerated vending machine for contactless purchases of burnt ends, chicken wings, rib tips and more.

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