COVID-19 Spurs Restaurants to Think Outside the To-Go Box
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Until recently, almost every state banned any form of dine-in service, pushing restaurants to ramp up their delivery and carryout business or offer these models for the first time.
 
This rapid transition undoubtedly created challenges for eating establishments. But restaurants have refused to let these challenges bring them down. Some have even developed innovative tactics to help both their business and their customers get through the coronavirus pandemic. New services and offerings will likely carry over into the early weeks of restaurant reopenings, or even become mainstays. Here are a few ways that restaurants have been getting creative. 
 
Meal Kits
 
People stuck at home aren’t just searching for food to eat; they want something to do. Meal kits check both of these boxes. From California Pizza Kitchen's take-and-bake pizza to gourmet dinner kits from Michelin star recipients, restaurants are giving households the opportunity to get off the couch for a fun activity. 
 
In most cases, meal kits are being offered in large quantities to help feed families, provide several days worth of food, and get rid of restaurant inventory. For this offering to work, restaurants must ensure cooking instructions are clear for people who might have little experience in the kitchen. 
 
A Side of Toilet Paper?
 
Most people could never imagine being served toilet paper with their pasta, but providing hard-to-get items with meals is becoming a popular way for restaurants to gain an edge. While many restaurants are offering a free roll of toilet paper with meals as a cheeky promotion, other places are going a step further. Some have quickly transformed into make-shift bodegas or markets to take orders for toilet paper, paper towels, eggs, bread, and other groceries. 
 
Booze To Go 
 
The alcohol industry has remained steady throughout the pandemic. One reason is that states are softening regulations, allowing places to temporarily provide booze through takeout and delivery services. Even as restaurants start to reopen, most states are continuing to allow for off-premise alcohol sales. Restaurants are eagerly taking advantage of this, giving discounts on bottles of wine or a free drink for orders that exceed a set dollar amount. Some bars are also delivering mixers, spirits, and cocktail kits to doorsteps. 
 
However, restaurants should be mindful of how they package to-go drinks. For example, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control requires alcoholic drinks to be served in containers with secure lids or caps that make them harder to consume while driving. 
 
Your Sourcing Solution 
 
To make these offerings effective, restaurants must properly utilize marketing strategies and order methods. Restaurants should leverage third-party services, their website, or their phone to receive not only traditional food orders but also orders for meal kits, alcohol, and whatever else they decide to offer. Additionally, these new services should be promoted across all channels, including websites, social media, and emails. 
 
A reliable sourcing partner is also necessary to bring these ideas to fruition. Dot Expressway is stocked with products that have been in high demand during the pandemic, including shelf-stable food, grab-and-go meals, and to-go containers. We even created our COVID-19 Food & Packaging Essentials website to make it easier to find in-demand products that are ready to ship. 
 
Shop our website to feed innovative business strategies.