News

Stand Strong and Deliver (and do to-go)

Mar 21
2020

The virus COVID-19 has now affected every corner of Texas, and with it has come great economic strife for all businesses, but none more so than restaurants. This new reality can be jarring. Where before there were dozens of smiling customers, now your dining rooms are empty and silent. Likely, you have already been forced to pare down staff hours, if not staff numbers. But you can recoup some of this lost revenue by optimizing your operations for off-premises dining by following this guide to off-premises service. 

Delivery platforms

Most delivery services are offering some form of relief in this time of crisis. TRA continues to encourage delivery platforms to stand in solidarity with the restaurants that make their businesses possible. Here is the latest available information as of 3/18: 

Favor (TRA recommended platform)

  • 0% commission rates through the end of March
  • Applies to restaurants with five or fewer locations
  • No strings attached

DoorDash

  • 0% commission rates for restaurants through mid-April
  • Reduced commission rates for restaurants currently on their platform (call for details)
  • 0% commission rates for pickup (not delivery) orders

Uber Eats

  • Standard commission rates still apply
  • Delivery fee for customers is waived
  • Daily restaurant payouts on sales rather than weekly
  • 0% commission rates for pickup (not delivery) orders

Grubhub/Caviar

  • Deferred commissions system (read the fine print here)
  • Restaurants expected to pay back deferred commissions in the form of withheld payments at a later date 
  • Restaurants that defer commissions are also expected to sign a year-long agreement to remain on the Grubhub platform

To-go ordering

If you are currently offering curbside/to-go ordering on your restaurant’s website, continue to do so. If your restaurant does not currently have this capability, the time to act is now. There are platforms available to get you started:

Operations in an off-premise world

Jonathan Horowitz of Convive Hospitality Consulting offers some suggestions for successfully negotiating the change from on-premise to off-premise only dining operations. 

  • Limit your menu to items that are capable of holding for longer periods of time. Examples of this include casseroles, braised proteins, and pasta. 
     
  • Reduce food costs by:
    • Focusing on higher margin menu items
    • Ordering only what you will cook immediately rather than tying up your cash flow in food that will be frozen for later
    • Ordering ingredients that are versatile and will find their way into many menu items
    • Eliminating high-end proteins from your menu and focusing on affordable and easily available proteins instead
       
  • Further reduce overhead by 
    • Scheduling only essential kitchen staff
    • Have essential kitchen staff cross trained to handle phone calls
    • Combining multiple items (e.g. entree, vegetable, starch) for a meal into one container, as the costs of packaging can quickly eat into your profit margin

Many restaurants have embraced this change by making a family style menu, as shown by TRA Member The Peached Tortilla. Owner/operator Eric Silverstein designed a “prix fixe” family style menu that has helped streamline operations.

Remember that your customers’ habits have changed overnight. They will be looking for a restaurant to deliver something for the whole family, who is now under one roof 24/7. And because of widespread shortages at grocery stores, they are more willing than usual to order in bulk. Adjust your menus accordingly. 

TRA stands with all Texas restaurants - members and non-members alike - in these tough times. We are working day and night with legislators to offer emergency relief. In the meantime, follow these best practices to help your restaurant adapt to this new environment. 

Article by Miles Pequeno, Director of Business Development for TRA
Image from Favor 

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