The rise of COVID-19 in the U.S. and across the world resulted in the fall of in-restaurant dining. In cities that thrive off of their culinary scene, like Seattle, it’s come as a shock to the industry.

There’s no telling what the near future holds for local restaurants. But, if one thing stands true, it’s that takeout and delivery are something they must embrace. Restaurants around Seattle continue to change the way they operate in order to adapt to our new climate. Some opting for pushing takeout and delivery, and others doing a complete 180 of their concepts. Here are some restaurants adopting to COVID-19 policies and being resilient during these times:

Taking on New Business Models:

  • Canlis. What used to be the ultimate night out experience reserved for special occasions for locals and out-of-towners alike is now a bagel shop in the morning, drive thru in the afternoon and delivery service at night. Also, available online is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) offering a box of locally-sourced ingredients to support local farmers. The strategic and creative plan had one goal in mind: maintaining jobs for its 115 employees and serving the city of Seattle. And so far, that’s exactly what they’ve done.

Giving Back in Times of Need

Food for the soul is taking on another meaning, with restaurants giving back while serving our community, including:

  • Salare is turning into a community kitchen in an effort to provide free meals for restaurant workers who were laid off amidst COVID-19 closures. The restaurant is also supplying other essentials like toiletries and plans to run daily from 4 – 7 p.m. for as long as restaurants are closed for in-restaurant dining.
  • Other community kitchens? Musang is open for kids who are in need of meals as schools closed, the pop-up Midnight Mecca is offering free breakfast and lunch for those in need, and Soulful Dishes will too offer free meals for those suffering during these times.
  • Restaurants open for takeout and delivery, and helping those who are in need include Bar Cotto offering free meals to anyone recently unemployed (no questions asked), Kizuki Ramen offering free lunches for children under 18 in local neighborhoods, and SanKai offering free meals for children under 18.

Embracing Takeout and Delivery:

In addition to the above, plenty of other restaurants adopting to COVID-19 are offering to-go and delivery (check out an extensive list here) for whatever you’re craving while at home.

So, what can we learn from restaurant’s adaptations to this unprecedented dining landscape?

  1. Planning is important and being able to turn on a dime is crucial to adapt to change. In times of crisis, the adjustment period for a new plan is short and the ability to quickly change pace will put you ahead of the pack.
  2. Know your customer base and what they’re going to need, before they can even spell it out for you. Many Seattle restaurants have strong, loyal followings. So taking what you know based on what’s happening (even if it’s little information) and anticipating what is necessary will lead the way when creating a new business model.
  3. Don’t be afraid to try something new, even if it’s out of the ballpark. Fine dining to drive thru was a shock to many when hearing that’s how Canlis planned to maintain its business. But, it has worked and continues to uphold its success each day the restaurant is open.

What now?

What can restaurants do at this stage if they’re closed? Or are planning for the time when they can reopen their doors for seated dining?

  • Create coupons for the future. Guests are eager for a time when they can dine at their favorite restaurants once again. Create an incentive to bring them back in the door the moment they’re able.
  • Show support for the frontline workers. Is there a way your employees can volunteer their time to make meal kits for those healthcare workers who are tirelessly working day in and out to prevent the spread? Social distancing guidelines in mind, of course.
  • Offer meal kits to make restaurant meals at home. It’s time for home chefs to show their skills and cook like they’re in a restaurant, with your help – they can! Make meal kits available to order that include portioned meals, recipe cards, tips/tricks, or quick videos of how to cook like a restaurant chef at home.

In just a few short weeks, we’ve seen the world transform before our eyes. While there is a lot of uncertainty during this trying time, one thing is certain – we will get through this together.