While most restaurant dining rooms remain closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, operators continue to look for ways to bring dine-in ambiance to the off-premise experience.
Cue the music.
A number of restaurants in recent days have found ways to incorporate on-brand music into their delivery and to-to programs.
Here’s a look at some recent musical “quarantune” offerings.
1. Date night music
In rolling out its Date Night Deals menu, casual-dining chain Red Lobster also offered up a curated Spotify playlist of romantic tunes. Songs range from oldies such as “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis to newer music such as “Love” by Lana Del Rey. The brand also has a number of downloadable Zoom backgrounds for long-distance dates.
2. Ambiance for every daypart
Fast-casual chicken chain Zaxby’s created a SoundCloud playlist of ambient noise and dialogue to set the mood for lunch, dinner, late night and Sundays. Sounds include a worker calling out orders, the fizz of a soda machine, ice pellets tumbling into a cup, sauce packets being opened and more.
"In the midst of shelter-at-home mandates and social-distancing recommendations, many of our customers are missing the familiarity of Zaxby's authentic dining experience," Zaxby's CMO Joel Bulger said in a statement. "We want brand fans to be able to close their eyes and imagine they're in our restaurants with their families and friends."
3. To-go playlists
Tock, a reservation platform that has pivoted to become a to-go platform for its member restaurants, has added playlists for many of its restaurants on its ordering page. The tunes are as varied as the restaurants, ranging from a Brunch at Home selection from Le Marais Bakery Bistro in San Francisco to a solo pianist in the dining room of Seattle’s Canlis.
“Hospitality is about more than food … it’s about emotional connection,” Tock founder Nick Kokonas said on Twitter. “While we at Tock cannot bring the restaurant to your home, even with Tock to go, we can help with the ambience.”
4. Traveling musician
An independent restaurant in Yorkville, Ill., is taking the concept of musical ambiance to the next level. Through its Singing Food Deliveries offering, Roadhouse RTE 47 is bringing a musician along for select meal deliveries.
Before the pandemic closed its dining room, the restaurant often hired musicians to perform there. Now, they’ve hired back some of those musicians to do quick performances at some delivery stops.
“We play a mix of things, from country to Elvis,” musician Eli Hernandez told the Chicago Tribune, adding that performances happen at a safe social distance and usually just include one chorus and verse.