The shelter-in-place order facing 80 percent of Americans means we have also paused on the popular pastime of dining out.
Although many restaurants have pivoted quickly to off-premises dining only, that model isn’t a fit for every brand. Not to be deterred, several of those establishments are getting creative with offerings such as curated meal kits and market baskets. Some restaurants are even expanding their menus to become pop-up general stores.
Prairie, a local restaurant to the San Francisco area, is taking that approach. Tables that had been used exclusively for dining now hold dozens of bulk products ranging, literally, from soup to nuts. Fresh produce and baked goods are delivered daily and meats are well stocked. Customers simply pre-order online and then pick up their goods. As a bonus, Prairie notes, “There is also a roll of toilet paper and some bleach wipes inside each kit for good measure.”
Freshii, a well-established fast casual franchise in Canada, has taken the initiative to not only offer market-basket and meal kits to individuals, but they have extended that offer to corporate partnerships to support work from home requirements. The Freshii WFH program started with local hospitals when the crisis began with the company providing meals to front line doctors and nurses in a safe, timely and organized way. The company has extended the Freshii WFH program to include Freshii meal combos ordered through one of the major aggregators (UberEats, Skip the Dishes, etc.) as well as Freshii Essentials Grocery Boxes delivered directly to home offices.
Providing these services helps restaurants in multiple ways – some of which might not be superficially obvious.
First, this approach helps suppliers and ensures that what customers need when the restrictions are lifted will be available. Now more than ever, it’s important to track food movement and understand where food and food-costs go. If restaurants aren’t ordering as much food to serve in-house, suppliers could end up with a backlog of perishable goods. Instead, the food that would have been prepared at a restaurant kitchen, is now being sold directly to the consumer in some creative model twists, as noted above. This keeps the supply chain moving, keeping costs constant and reducing food waste.
Maintaining Connection with Customers
The experience we get going to our favorite restaurants in many cases ranks right up there with the quality and taste of the food. So why not deliver some of that experience to-go? Pair your meal kits with preparation cards that show the personality and warmth of their favorite chefs and staff. Or as Wagamama is doing, a video tutorial on how to cook popular meals. Or share a secret recipe or ingredient with your most loyal customers. These gestures will help keep your business moving and help build loyalty and affinity with customers even while you are apart.
Ensuring Everyone Knows You Are #OpenforBusiness
You’ve opened your pantry and started meal kits… now what? Be sure that you are promoting these new offerings on social – and don’t forget to update your listings on Open Table, Yelp, etc. Although consumers are not headed to Open Table to make a reservation, the site is a top search result for brand and non-branded foodie terms so make sure you’re using every possible vehicle to stay on the radar of your target audience.
In summary, expanding your model to include new offerings can keep your loyal diners happy, while attracting new customers who might not have been guests under regular circumstances. And perhaps most importantly, these creative twists can help maintain a flow of revenue and keep your staff busy in new capacities – be they stockers, packers and preparers – until after the storm passes.
If you’re interested in engaging with our solution experts to understand how you might best configure your current tech stack to enable new models of, we are here to help. Reach us by phone: US: +1 866-287-4736; UK: +44 207 5626 827; AU: 1300 366 386; LAD: 52 559 178 3146) | chat | or request a call back