Specialty Food Magazine

Summer 2020

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/1256204

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Page 42 of 91

Another strategy restaurant operators have adopted is to offer the retail sale of grocery items that customers can either pick up or have delivered with their food order. Urban Grub in Nashville, Tennessee, for example, another SevenRooms customer, created an online store to offer its popular meats, including house-made burgers and sausages, sorghum bacon, and a variety of beef, pork, and lamb cuts, from chuck roasts to Wagyu strip steaks. Blending Multiple Strategies At American Elm, an upscale bistro concept in Denver, owner Bob Reiter has rolled out a combination of initiatives to keep his restaurant business going. The restaurant quickly launched a comprehensive takeout and delivery service through the Toast digital platform and blended in the menus of two of its sister concepts, a food truck called Kings County Kitchen and a new concept the company created called Neighborhood Noodles. American Elm also added a weekly heat-and-eat meal kit plan, featuring a variety of pre-cooked meals for one, two, or four people. "What we really wanted to do was find mechanisms by which we could feed people and feed our neighborhood specifically, and I think we've done a good job of that," says Reiter. Reiter had already been testing some new concept ideas specifically for delivery when the crisis hit, which he says helped him to quickly pivot the business. "We had the equipment and we had all the tablets for Uber Eats and Grubhub, and we had an idea of how we wanted to operate," he says. "We were already working through that process when this happened." American Elm, like many restaurants around the country, has also been able to capitalize on the loosening of state restrictions on the delivery of alcohol. The restaurant added beer and wine bottles to its off-premises menu, as well a selection of premixed cocktails. In addition, Reiter was planning to add some packaged smoothies and grocery staples to his offering, including items like milk, eggs, butter, and some proteins. 32 SPECIALTY FOOD SPECIALTYFOOD.COM BUSINESS CONTINUITY Opportunities for Foodservice Research from Datassential shows that many consumers are interested in purchasing retail products from local restaurants. "Apparently, these 'pop-up provisioners' are onto something, as most Americans—especially Gen Z and millennials— express some interest no matter the grocery category," Datassential said in a recent report. The research found that more than half of consumers surveyed said they would be interested in buying a range of grocery items from restaurants, from alcoholic beverages to fresh meat and produce to baked goods. Restaurants can also drive sales during the crisis through heat-and-eat and make-at- home meals, the Datassential research found. "Consumers can make home-cooked meals without all the hassle, and it can also be a form of entertainment for the family," Datassential said in the report, citing millenials and households with children as being especially receptive to a broad range of such offerings. Among the heat-and-eat or build-your-own meals consumers expressed the most interest in were take-and-bake comfort foods, build-your-own pizza kits, build-your-own taco or burrito kits, and take-and-bake desserts. Burger kits, dessert decorating kits, cocktail kits, and barbecue kits also polled well with consumers in the survey. Consumers are also deeply concerned about the fate of their favorite restaurants and their employees, the Datassential research indicated. Many consumers said they were supportive of promotions that offered financial assistance to laid off workers, as well as promotions that supported the distribution of meals to first responders and healthcare workers. "Consumers want to reach out to the industry, and they want to find ways to help," says Allen of Aaron Allen & Associates. "Good operators don't want to lay off staff if they don't have to. One of the key takeaways of this is the importance of communication, empathy, care, compassion, and respect." Esther Crain is a New York City-based freelance writer. Mark Hamstra is a regular contributor to Specialty Food.

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