March 18, 2020

Creative Ideas to Help Your Business Right Now

During this time of crisis, the thing everyone can do is help each other.

The Osterfeld Agency, a New Orleans based design, and marketing agency in conjunction with the Louisiana Restaurant Association have created a website where restaurants can provide much-needed information to the public.  At no cost to the restaurant (or public) essentials like hours, services, menus and delivery/pick-up options can be made easily available.  Go to the website at

At restaurants can find other helpful resources to assist during the pandemic.  There is signage that can be printed and used to assist at your restaurant and graphics you can use on your social media to keep customers informed.  You will find that at  

We’ve also been searching the country for creative ideas that other restaurants and businesses are using to assist them to navigate this crisis.  Below are some of the stories we’ve uncovered.  Each story or idea has a link to the full article for your information.  If you come up with a creative idea or other information you’d be willing to share with your fellow restaurateurs, please let us know.  You can reach us at


Bo Peabody, a restaurateur, and co-founder of reservations app Seated recommends that operators be careful with the tone of their messaging to both customers and staff, treating the situation with seriousness and calm.

 “At the end of the day, no matter what type of restaurant you run, in a time of crisis, it becomes a neighborhood restaurant. It becomes a community place. Restaurants are such vital threads in our social fabric. They’re one of the last places we gather.”

Now is the time to be communicating off-premise options, experimenting with different third-party delivery providers and encouraging customers to find any way to receive your product, he said.


Piroshky Piroshky, the owner of Pike Place Market in Seattle, says beginning this Sunday, it will live stream from its bakery. Anyone can log in watch the bakers make things.   You might consider live streaming cooking lessors, let your chef show dishes being cooked for pick-up/delivery, or just interview your staff.  The idea is to keep your customers engaged and show them you’re still open for business.  With all the kids home from school, you might live stream cooking classes for kids.


Renowned Spanish-American chef José Andrés announced on Sunday that he would shut down all of his restaurants in the Washington, D.C., area.  The restaurants, including Oyamel and Zaytinya, will be closed until further notice. Some of his restaurants will be transformed into community kitchens to offer lunches for those in need of a meal, Andrés said on Twitter.

“The community kitchens will operate out of the restaurants’ side doors with a limited number of volunteers from 12 – 5 pm daily beginning Tuesday, March 17, offering only takeout service. All restaurant employees will be provided with paid leave and current health benefits for at least the first two weeks,” Andrés wrote in a statement.


City of Chicago considering payments to service industry workers.  The Illinois Restaurant Association is working with Chicago Mayor Lightfoot and Illinois Governor  J.B. Pritzker to identify money to help restaurant owners make payroll during the crisis so employees can pay their mortgages or rent.


French Quarter restaurant sues in what may be first U.S. coronavirus insurance dispute
In what’s believed to be a first in the U.S., a French Quarter restaurant is suing Lloyd’s of London, hoping a judge will order the U.K. based insurance market to cover losses caused by government-ordered closures due to the coronavirus.

Oceana Grill filed suit against Lloyd’s of London in Orleans Parish Civil District Court on Monday, seeking a declaratory judgment to proactively force its insurance carrier to pay for losses from a pandemic.


Emergency Cash Available For Tipped Workers As Restaurants Close To Stop Coronavirus Spread
Restaurant workers, delivery drivers and other tipped workers can now receive emergency cash if affected by the coronavirus.  The One Fair Wage campaign has launched an emergency cash relief fund and is offering $213 in cash for any tipped worker affected after some states including Illinois temporarily shut down bars and restaurants to stop the spread of the virus. The organization is also seeking donations to help fund the effort.


Grubhub Announces It Will Delay Collecting Fees as Restaurants Deal With COVID-19
 Grubhub has pledged, starting on Saturday, to delay the collection of certain fees it charges to “independent” restaurants. The move is poised to improve cash flow for restaurants losing customers as people stay at home due to concerns about the novel coronavirus.

Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney, at a news conference at Chicago City Hall, said the company is prepared to delay collection of $100 million in fees. The fees would affect restaurants across the country, not just certain cities. Maloney said Grubhub was looped in on Thursday after officials from cities like Chicago, New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Atlanta discussed how they could help restaurants during the pandemic and reached out to the company. It’s unclear how long with Grubhub will wait until it collects fees from restaurants. One restaurant owner, who didn’t want to be named, said his Grubhub rep described it as a no-interest loan.


Even if you’re switched to a carry-out rather than the dine-in model you still have to consider enhanced cleaning techniques.


CapitalSpring, a restaurant investment firm with about 4,000 locations nationwide in its portfolio, has sent out detailed instructions to its restaurants, which include Taco Bell and Wendy’s franchises.
Some of the firm’s directives are unique to the situation, like placing kitchen timers in restaurants and setting them to go off periodically for some time limit under an hour. When the timer dings, employees have to complete a specific cleaning task, like wiping down a cash register or soda station. Tracking sheets and video surveillance make sure that employees are following the stricter policies.

CapitalSpring’s restaurants are also deploying tamper-proof packaging for orders. The measure was in the works even before the outbreak to stop delivery drivers from eating customers’ fries but now carries more significance because third-party delivery drivers have contact with multiple restaurants and consumers.


Consider moving to black protective gloves that are replaced after every dish is served in a move toward “black glove service.” 

Delivery is taking a creative spin, too, with cautious customers ordering in more often from both third-party companies and directly from restaurants. To stem the spread of COVID-19, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit rolled out contactless doorstep drop-off delivery on Thursday. Customers have to order through or the Dickey’s app to get this option, and each order comes pre-sealed upon arrival. Jimmy John’s also offers contact-free delivery, along with several other chain and independent operators. 


Consumers are being encouraged to purchase restaurant gift cards to use in the future. One Boston marketing company created the hashtag #buyagiftcard to increase the influx of cash to restaurants and other small businesses during the coronavirus slowdown.


In a sign of what those in the restaurant industry are trying to do for operators, an initiative called “Dining Bonds” was announced as a way to suggest customers support smaller restaurants that can’t stay open. The idea is for consumers to pay upfront for gift certificates, often offered at a discount, from a growing list of restaurants, and is being led by two PR firms, HP-PR and Hall PR. Then, consumers can redeem the gift certificates at a later date once restaurants resume service. 


adding takeout dishes at a fine-dining restaurant isn’t as simple as putting food in boxes, says Mourad Lahlou, the chef and owner of Michelin-starred Mourad in San Francisco. That’s one reason he’s avoided it in the past. “In normal days, when people say ‘Can I get a lamb to-go or an octopus to-go,’ we say no because it just doesn’t travel well.”

But these days aren’t normal, so for the first time, Lahlou is adding takeout at Mourad — although he’s tweaking dishes first. 

“We’re changing the sauces and the cuts [of meat] so the dish doesn’t die within two or three minutes of it being cooked.”
There’s a whole host of things to consider, says Landers: “Adapting your menu, changing your equipment, your prices, negotiating the delivery fee.” That fee, essentially a commission from third-party services, can vary widely: Grubhub and Seamless, Doordash and Caviar, and others usually charge anywhere from 18 to 30 percent per order, a massive chunk of a given check. 

I’d think about what guests will want while stuck at home or locally nearby,” he writes, “particularly focusing on family meals now that everyone is staying at home, both kids and parents. This gives you a higher check size and allows you to pass along almost the entire cost of logistics ~$5/order.” Another idea: full meal delivery kits, with raw veggies, beverages, and more. “Think items that you have easy access to as a restaurant, but which may be difficult for guests to access. At a certain point, bars and restaurants may be better built to deliver on-demand groceries and alcohol, than are grocery stores and liquor stores.” 

Chef Alex Stupak has always offered delivery and catering at his four Empellon restaurants in New York. But now, deliveries through third-party services like Caviar and Seamless are up roughly 65 percent while dine-in covers are crashing. 

“I just think it’s in the nature of chefs — style aside, business aside, ego aside — we all got into this business because we like to feed people, and this [situation] becomes a clarifier of that,” Stupak says.


Delivery companies are offering special promotions for both restaurants and customers during the dine-in ban. To help restaurants, Grubhub will defer commission fees for independent restaurants and will match all special promotions. Uber Eats launched a new opt-in program for all restaurants that allow daily payouts to restaurants, rather than waiting for the standard weekly payouts.

For restaurant drivers and employees, Grubhub created the Grubhub Community Relief Fund, which will go to charitable organizations that support drivers and restaurants affected by the coronavirus. Uber Eats is offering financial assistance to drivers and delivery people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are self-isolating by recommendation of a public health official.

To encourage customers to order from local restaurants, Uber Eats is waiving all delivery fees for orders from independent restaurants in the U.S. and Canada. Contact-free delivery is now the norm when ordering from Grubhub and is an option when ordering from Uber Eats, Postmates and Caviar. Many independent restaurants will also accommodate contactless delivery if you just ask. You can expect drivers to call or text when they arrive and drop off the order on the doorstep or in a lobby, so you do not need to come into physical contact with them.


Restaurants are doing what they can to keep customers. KFC says that starting March 14 it will offer free delivery through April 26 through its site, Grubhub or Seamless.   You might negotiate for a reduction in your delivery service fee and eat that on your end in order to advertise FREE DELIVERY.


Facebook says it is prepared to dole out $100 million to small businesses to weather the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus outbreak. On Tuesday, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, announced the program that’s being called “Boost With Facebook.”


Chipotle Mexican Grill is trying to put an uplifting spin on the situation by offering “Chipotle Together” virtual hangouts on Zoom. Each day this week, 3,000 fans will be able to mingle virtually with celebrities in online chats that will also include codes for free entrées. Monday’s chat, scheduled for 2 p.m. ET, is set to be co-hosted by “The Bachelor” Colton Underwood, “who will chat with fans and walk them through a hilarious Chipotle-inspired presentation,” Chipotle said. The company is sharing links to the Chipotle Together Zoom meetings on Twitter.

While smaller restaurants might not be able to attract celebrities there are ways to get creative.  Live streams from your restaurant where your chef teaches, shows recipes, cooking for kids (lots of kids are home with nothing to do).


To help bars, restaurants, wineries, and distilleries survive without in-person business during the coronavirus outbreak, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that they’d be allowed to offer alcohol for takeout orders.
Restrictions going into place on Monday requiring all bars and restaurants to stop serving people inside the establishment indefinitely. The goal is to limit the number of human interactions, thereby reducing exposure to the new coronavirus and curbing the outbreak.

“However, there is a silver lining for these establishments, because we’re also very aware of the economic consequences for these establishments,” Cuomo said Monday.

Normally, bars and restaurants are able to sell alcohol on premises only during specific hours, according to State Liquor Authority rules. However, Cuomo said the SLA would be announcing changes to its regulations by 5 p.m. Monday to try to lessen the economic burden of the outbreak policy.

The changes will include allowing restaurants, bars, wineries, and distilleries to sell their alcoholic products to patrons who order takeout.


If the thought of wrestling over the last bag of dried pasta in a grocery store sounds like the most stressful way to stock up for coronavirus quarantine, you’re probably right. Thankfully, some of L.A.’s best restaurants are here to help, turning their full-service restaurants into corner stores packed with produce, jarred goods, dried noodles, rice, toilet paper, and other hard-to-finds.

The pivot is symbiotic: Per Mayor Garcetti’s Sunday night order, restaurants must shutter all dine-in components through the end of the month. By flipping their business models to help you stock up, these full-service restaurants are helping to deplete their excess stock—much of which gets sourced from local farmers’ markets—while offering all of us high-grade items not normally found at the grocery store, or pantry staples that are already out of stock in big-box retailers.

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