Restaurants adapt menus to COVID-19

The pandemic is forcing operators to come up with creative solutions to feed their customers.
Photograph: Shutterstock

With restaurants and bars forced to close in many states, most operators are working hard to continue business by ramping up curbside pickup and contactless delivery. Others are offering meal deals and specials to entice housebound consumers and reaching out to those in need in their communities. Here’s a roundup of creative solutions to steal and share.

Chick N Max, a fast-casual chicken concept based in Wichita, Kan., created a Community Support Menu at an affordable price that makes it more accessible to consumers. Available all day, the menu includes a choice of a family meal of 12 signature chicken tenders, two sides and bread for $20, 20 wings for $20 or BOGO chicken sandwiches for $4.99.

Also jumping in with family meals is Flat & Point, a meat-centric restaurant in Chicago. Guests email their order with a phone number so the kitchen can call back to confirm and note the preferred curbside pickup date and time. Available packages include porchetta, roast chicken with gravy, meatballs with marinara and brisket, accompanied by sides; meals are ready in one hour. Weber Grill in Chicago and its suburbs is marketing family grill packs via DoorDash delivery or takeout. Customers can choose from meatloaf and/or beer-can chicken, and dinners include sides and pretzel rolls. A higher-end package offers grilled strip steak or planked grilled salmon.

Everytable,a globally influenced eatery with multiple locations in greater Los Angeles, has established the Everytable Helpline to assist those having difficulty getting food. The restaurant encourages calls from seniors who need food brought to their homes, healthcare centers and schools where foodservice has been disrupted as well as businesses that want their employees to have access to healthy meals. Everytable will deliver, if needed, and has pickup service at its grab-and-go stores. In addition, customers can sign up for a subscription service that ensures regular meal deliveries.

Turkitch Turkish Kitchen in Chicago is offering free delivery through Grubhub, giving customers 10% cash back on each order and adding pickup service at each of its three locations. The restaurant is also inviting guests to sponsor meals for delivery to workers at neighboring St. Joseph Hospital. Customers will get 10% off those orders, and the food will be delivered free of charge.

Healthy fast casual Sweetgreen is also showing appreciation to medical personnel on the front lines of the pandemic by delivering free salads and bowls to hospitals in the cities that it serves. The chain is setting up more Outpost operations—its contactless delivery system— at health facilities and dedicating its Outpost teams to handling those orders.

Karazishi Botan,a ramen restaurant in Brooklyn, is providing new options that are developed by chef-owner Foo Kanegae specifically for takeout. The pared-down menu includes Tonkotsu Ramen, a Miso Botanical Ramen and a vegetarian porcini mushroom-based soup, as well as appetizers such as edamame and wings—all designed to travel well.

Timothy O’Toole’s Pub is creating make-at-home meal kits for delivery from its four Chicago locations and looking to add essentials such as packaged bread and toilet paper. On March 16, the restaurant donated 100% of its revenue, including gift cards, to hourly staff. A sister concept, Bonus Round Cafe, has suspended meal service but is delivering games curbside. When customers purchase board games online, there is a tip option, with funds going to the staff.

Masseria, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Washington, D.C., is catering to the fine-dining crowd. Chef Nicholas Stefanelli launched Masseria a Casa, an operation that delivers meals from Steffanelli’s home to guests’ front doors. Dinners for two include main dishes of Long Island Duck Confit, Branzino and Slow Cooked Veal, with chef-inspired sides to match. Customers can also pair their meal with a bottle of wine. Instead of partnering with a third-party company, the staff will be using the restaurant’s catering van, personal cars and even a Vespa to deliver the dinners.

Chef Sarah Stegner of Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook, Ill., set up a hotline to help consumers with cooking tips during this period of self-isolation. The “From Our Kitchen to Yours” hotline is open from 2-4 p.m. CST, when chef Stegner is available to answer cooking questions, help with meal planning and offer support to novice cooks. Prairie Grass is also offering curbside meal pickup service.


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