Off The Menu: Drive-thru, curbside pickup and delivery part of new norm in dining
With the COVID-19 pandemic in the US in its seventh month, it is clear that everyday life and the role that eating outside the home will play in it has almost certainly changed forever.
Of course, this wave of disturbance cannot be described as completely unexpected. The arrival of COVID-19 on the scene has, for the most part, simply accelerated the transformation of the industry – third-party delivery services, “ghost” kitchens, digital payments, and more – that were already underway. Still, the restaurant world will emerge from the radically changed pandemic.
It is already evident that restaurants with digital ordering platforms, drive-through options and the operational flexibility to quickly move to the “roadside” are now better positioned to survive and thrive than restaurants that closed their doors in mid-March and decided to ” Just wait.”
It is also clear that there will be a number of restaurants – no one really seems to know how many there are – that will fall victim to the current economic downturn.
Earlier this summer, for example, OpenTable stated that one in four of the restaurants listed was at risk of closure, and while the Independent Restaurant Coalition lobbied for federal aid this summer, it warned that over 75% of independent restaurants could potentially go down business by the end 2020.
Both numbers are likely overstated, but there will no doubt be many sacrifices as the hospitality industry, like retail, was ripe for a herd thinning. Apart from a significant number of individual restaurant closings, several small and medium-sized restaurant chains have already gone bankrupt. Big brands didn’t avoid the turmoil either, as they had to cut back on their own activities and rescue financially troubled franchisees.
However, the events of the past few months have shown again the lack of many consumers who lack the time, skills and / or willingness to prepare food at home. The challenge, therefore, is not whether there is a restaurant, but how to produce food from home in a way that customers find “safe”.
The smart money has already decided that the restaurant business still has potential. Two veteran food service entrepreneurs, Sandy Beall, founder of Ruby Tuesday, and Doug Jacobs of & Pizza, founded a company, FAST Acquisition Corp., and are raising $ 200 million to help distressed but promising restaurant concepts and locations for pennies to buy the dollar.
Expect similar initiatives in the coming months, benefiting investors from the disruption that COVID-19 has caused.
The Westfield Tavern Restaurant continues to offer Family Dinners to Go. Dinner is available seven evenings a week from 4 p.m. and can accommodate four to six people, depending on your appetite.
The six options on offer are all Italian-American favorites and include Chicken Francaise, Eggplant Parmigiana, and Chicken Broccoli Alfredo. A family salad with dressing can be added to any family meal at an additional cost.
Contact the Tavern Restaurant at (413) 562-0335 for more information or to place an order.
Fall arrived a month later earlier this year, at least in the Dunkin stores. The “coffee and” chain, one of the earliest pumpkin-spice influencers in the food industry, has only reintroduced its fall favorites (as well as some newcomers) for a limited time.
Pumpkin-flavored Dunkins vortex can be enjoyed in all of its coffee, espresso, and hot chocolate drinks. It also appears in the new Signature Pumpkin Spice Latte, an espresso-based creation that is refined with pumpkin and vanilla before being doused with whipped cream, caramel drizzle and cinnamon sugar.
Another new item on the menu is a chai latte, seasoned with cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg.
A selection of new snack favorites is another part of Dunkin’s fall lineup.
Filled mini bagels are rounds of bagels that are filled with cream cheese and served warm. They come in “simple” and “all” variations.
Maple Sugar Seasoned Snackin ‘Bacon is served with eight strips per sleeve.
Steak & Cheese Rollups complete the hearty snack range at Dunkin ‘. They are served to order in pairs and consist of sliced steak and American cheese rolled in a flour tortilla.
Classics back on Dunkin’s agenda include variations of cider and pumpkin donut, a sprinkled pumpkin muffin, and a maple sugar bacon breakfast sandwich that also includes egg and white cheddar, served in a warm croissant.
Emma’s Everyday Gourmet in Westfield is now open every day from 3pm except on Sundays for takeaway and food.
In addition to the restaurant’s regular menu with favorite Italian dishes, the kitchen offers three daily specials – a selection of starters, a pizza specialty and a starter.
Recent examples include a chicken arancini starter made with black beans, rice, grilled chicken, and cheddar cheese. a pizza specialty with ham, roasted garlic, Swiss cheese and a Dijon sauce; and a starter of red snapper fillet paired with wild mushroom polenta.
Reservations and takeaway can be arranged by calling (413) 642-3221.
The Villa Rose Restaurant in Ludlow has set special hours and menu options to keep up with the current iteration of the pandemic guidelines.
There is seating on the terrace of the restaurant, in the garden area and on a socially distant basis in the dining room. The opening times of the restaurant are Tuesday to Sunday from 12 noon to 10 p.m., with a requested dwell time of 90 minutes per group.
The restaurant is also open on a limited menu basis. The list of around a dozen starters is usually updated weekly. Villa Rose publishes its menu on its Facebook page facebook.com/thevilla.roserestaurant/
Reservations can be made by calling Villa Rose at (413) 547-6667.
Hanna Devine’s restaurant in Ware now has a “brother” facility in Belchertown that has taken over the operation of the clubhouse restaurant at the Cold Spring Country Club on Route 21.
Joseph’s at Cold Spring is open Tuesday through Friday from 4pm to 8pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12pm to 8pm
Joseph’s is an “American restaurant” and has a limited selection of salads, sandwiches and starters. The latter include favorites like fish and chips, maple bourbon salmon, and Statler chicken with a toasted fresh herb finish.
For the first time, the restaurant has taken advantage of the clubhouse terrace, an outdoor area with a wide view of the golf course and the rural landscape beyond, as well as indoor seating at a reasonable distance.
Joseph’s at Cold Spring, which is open to the public, replies at (413) 323-4888.
Max’s Tavern at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield is currently offering guests two options at the end of the week.
Every Friday Max’s Tavern presents “Tavern Tastings”, a multi-course food and drink event based on a specific selection of drinks.
The 5-course fixed price menu is available from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and features inventive New American cuisine from Max’s Tavern head chef Nate Waugaman. Reservations are required.
On Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant serves a prime rib special, which is available to eat or take away. Prime Rib for Two is an experience for couples and includes a select bottle of wine.
Max’s Tavern answers at (413) 746-6299.
The Wendy’s Co. has introduced a new budget menu option, the Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich. The sandwich made from breaded chicken breast strips is heated in a chilli-pepper marinade. Breaded and fried until crispy, the strips are served on a warm roll topped with Romaine and a touch of mayo.
The Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich occupies a firm place on the burger chain’s menu.
Hugh Robert is a faculty member in Holyoke Community College’s Hospitality and Culinary Arts program and has nearly 45 years of experience in restaurants and education. Robert can be reached online at [email protected]