3 Reasons Why Some Restaurants Are UP in Sales Over 2019
Yes, the restaurant industry, as a whole, has suffered terribly because of the COVID virus and the subsequent state and federally mandated shutdowns and restrictions on business. State by state, governors have targeted (fairly or not) the hospitality and travel industries with rules and regulations severely restricting business and occupancy levels.
YET… SOME RESTAURANTS ARE THRIVING AND BEATING LAST YEAR’S SALES!
1. Embrace to-go, curbside pick-up & third party delivery services!
For years Outback Steakhouse has had a separate doorway for Curbside Takeaway. As they say on their website “Once your order is placed, drive over, pull up and your delicious order is brought out to you by a friendly, smiling Outbacker. There’s no need to even get out of your car. In a matter of seconds you’re ready to drive off again and enjoy!”
I spoke to a restaurant manager of my local Outback early during the pandemic and asked him about business. “Mother’s Day is one of our busiest Curbside Takeaway days. This week we had 3 Mother’s Days’ worth of carry out sales” They have a separate pantry, just for Takeaway. The manager explained everything is wiped down and sanitized every hour, pens, given to guests for signing charge slips are sanitized before re-using”
A local restaurant, Tony’s Place Bar & Grill has a very loyal clientele. Talking to their GM, take out sales have been crazy busy. He has not had to let staff go, in fact on a typical Monday night he had 10 servers just handling take-out orders and a full kitchen staff.
A regional Mexican food franchise, Margarita’s, is now doing about 60% of their business in takeout sales. Arpeggio, another local restaurant, is bringing on an assistant manager just to handle the takeout business. Mary, one of the owners, is placing a strong emphasis on getting every to-go order done correctly.
A local Chick-Fil-A franchise has been so busy with take-out, they are opening a ghost kitchen just for third party delivery services to pick up orders, instead of interfering with the already busy restaurant.
WHAT DO ALL THESE RESTAURANTS HAVE IN COMMON? They aren’t afraid of take-out sales and made it work!
2. Take advantage of and expand outdoor dining options
Nicole, owner of Marquis & Co. in Philadelphia quietly took over the alleyway next to her center city location, stringing up lights, and socially distant placed tables and chairs. Sales in June were 30% over her May sales.
Doylestown, PA has allowed local restaurants to extend dining to the sidewalk allowing businesses to block metered parking spaces to allow pedestrians a way to avoid close contact with diners. The 7 additional tables The Hattery added account for 35% of their business and they are now closing in on last year’s weekday sales numbers.
Restaurants have rented large tents and blocked off sections of their dining room, while others have converted backyard open space usually used for wedding and events to pop up dining rooms with outdoor propane heaters as the weather begins to turn.
Private restaurateurs have put their blood, sweat and tears in to developing their business. They have become a part of the community and their lives depend on the success of their restaurant. They can’t give up, so they do whatever they have to, to make it through. They’ve built a cadre of loyal employees who are pitching in, taking on additional responsibilities, doing deliveries, cross-training in to different functions.
A private owner doesn’t have the luxury of corporate chains who could lose one location and still survive, or easily declare bankruptcy and relieve themselves of debt.
Yes, the restaurant industry is hurting and some restaurants will not survive, but, giving up is not an option for most restaurateurs. Look at how you can embrace to-go sales, use your outdoors to your advantage and make it work!
Marty Tarabar – Franchise Partner