Surviving COVID-19: Add Curbside Service to your Restaurant

With new mandates around the world banning dine-in options at restaurants during the ongoing pandemic, adding curbside service to your restaurant may be the key to keeping revenue rolling in during this unprecedented time. Lavu is here to support your restaurant, and understand that adapting to new tactics is the only way our industry can continue to thrive during difficult times.

Setting up Curbside Service Options

It’s time to get up to speed and start offering curbside service options for your local customers. Let your loyal customers know you’re open for business, and they have a new choice of curbside pickup for placing orders. Send them an email, a push-notification, and share the news on social media outlets.  Update your website and any ordering portals to include the option of curbside pickup at check-out.

In your POS system, add options for curbside service, to tell the kitchen and front of house staff how to handle the order. Adding this integration to your POS is simple, and helps avoid hiccups once business returns to normal.

Restaurants like Chili’s, who already have curbside to-go options available, are most prepared for the current pandemic, and changes to daily operations. Per the restaurant’s website, they have upped their sanitation measures and are following “rigorous handwashing procedures according to the CDC and WHO’s guidelines.”

Their curbside service allows guests to order online, park in a designated spot, and alert Chili’s staff members that they’ve arrived via the app, allowing consumers to practice social distancing. According to a recent study posted on Meat + Poultry in late January of 2020, Chili’s has seen the best traffic growth in the last year out of the past ten years. This is due by and large to their commitment to quality of service, and their superior delivery, carry out, and curbside pickup options.

Restaurant Supplies to Stock up on

When offering curbside pickup or delivery for the first time, your restaurant will need to rethink your stock of to-go ready containers. Stock up on these items to keep up with the increased demand for to-go orders and carryout:

  •   Carryout bags
  •   Drink trays
  •   Disposable silverware
  •   Disposable cups
  •   Napkins
  •   Pens (pens with restaurant info – give away to each person who signs)

Tips from Restaurateurs Pivoting During the Pandemic

The Texas Restaurant Association hosted a Webinar on Wednesday, March 18, to address curbside for full-service restaurants. Thomas Nguyen of Peli-Peli and Jessica Delgado of Delgado Collective shared these tips, and what they are doing to stay afloat and profitable while dining halls around the world close.

The Delgado Collective has offered curbside service since they first opened their doors, but are upping their game and working on contacting patrons to let them know they are open for business. Peli-Peli has never offered curbside service and is more of a luxury food chain, but they are quickly adapting to new dining hall closure mandates.

Tips for Pivoting During Dining Hall Closure

  •   Update your website’s main page, so consumers see the updates to curbside, takeout, and delivery.
  •   Send out a newsletter with information on how to place curbside pickup orders.
  •   Add signage to your store that shows you’re open, even if customers can’t dine inside.
  •   Offer quick-service menu items, and lower the price point on these new items to draw in new customers.
  •   Create an in-house delivery team to help your servers and front of house staff continue to get hours. (Talk to your insurance provider before starting deliveries with an in-house team.)
  •   Partner with delivery services such as Grub Hub, Uber Eats, Postmates, and Door Dash to show your curbside and delivery options to a broader audience.
  •   Contact media outlets for press releases regarding staying open for curbside orders.
  •   Increase social media presence, make announcements, and share photos of curbside ordering options.
  •   Talk to your vendors about changes you’re making, let them help you spread the word.
  •   Ask carryout and curbside pickup customers if they need cutlery kits. Save on supplies by only giving out essentials right now.
  •   Show gratitude to your guests that continue to support your restaurants.
  •   Take credit card information over the phone to avoid hassle while at the restaurant.
  •   Create new promotions for carryout. The Delgado Collective is offering 50% bottles of wine with curbside pickup orders.
  •   Add meal-prep, and cold options to your menu, with grocery stores, empty this has excellent potential to stave off the revenue loss for your restaurant.

Jessica Delgado is trying to keep her head up and looking forward, she told webinar guests on Texas Restaurant Association, “As long as you’re open-minded and ready to change in any way, and you still have your solid menu, and you adapt and overcome a bit to make it more economical for these tough times that’s going to help everyone.”

Benefits of Curbside Pickup Outlast the Pandemic

While adding curbside pickup may feel like a pain, providing this much-needed service to your community can set you on a path to thriving once the current crisis is over, and we find our new normal. We can’t predict what the future holds for the restaurant industry, but these benefits of the curbside pickup will help your restaurant for years to come:

  •   Save on personnel costs
  •   Reduction of contact with food
  •   Less-crowded restaurants
  •   Customers who are in a rush like carryout or curbside options
  •   Continue to Generate revenue while other area restaurants may be completely closed

States that Banned Dine-In Service

As of Friday, March 20, 2020, these U.S. states and localities have suspended dine-in service for all restaurants, and there have been 275,427 total confirmed cases:

  •   Alaska
  •   Arkansas
  •   Alabama
  •   Phoenix, Arizona
  •   Tucson, Arizona
  •   California
  •   Connecticut
  •   Colorado
  •   Delaware
  •   Hawaii
  •   Illinois
  •   Indiana
  •   Iowa
  •   Miami, Florida
  •   Kentucky
  •   Louisiana
  •   Maine
  •   Maryland
  •   Massachusetts
  •   Michigan
  •   Minnesota
  •   Greater Kansas City area, both Missouri and Kansas
  •   St. Louis, Missouri
  •   Nebraska
  •   New Hampshire
  •   New Jersey
  •   New York
  •   New Mexico
  •   Nevada
  •   North Carolina
  •   North Dakota
  •   Ohio
  •   Oregon
  •   Pennsylvania
  •   Puerto Rico
  •   Rhode Island
  •   South Carolina
  •   Nashville, Tennessee
  •   Texas
  •   Utah
  •   Vermont
  •   West Virginia
  •   Washington
  •   Washington, D.C.
  •   Wyoming

 Lavu prepared a Public Service Announcement for restaurants affected by COVID-19. For up-to-date information and resources, check here.

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