As people stock up on groceries and focus on home cooking, restaurants are facing new challenges related to demand. Grocery items are flying off the shelves, and when it comes to staples like cheese and milk, stores are struggling to restock fast enough.
These new challenges are an opportunity for restaurant owners to diversify their offering while helping customers. Many have found creative ways to create added value for their clients using ingredients they either have on hand or can easily access. Since everyone is leaving the house as little as possible, a two-for-one is always welcome – why not transform your restaurant into a one-stop shop using these ideas handed down from our experts?
Concept 1 - Sell grocery staples
Many restaurants have created mini food markets for customers to pick up key grocery items, helping them restock their fridge without having to visit a crowded grocery store.
This setup is a win-win: customers can order dinner while also getting some groceries for the week, then have their entire order delivered to their door. Secure delivery is a must if you are offering this service – make sure your staff knows how to conduct safe food deliveries.
- Offer grocery essentials baskets at a fixed price. You can make baskets for two people, for a family of four, etc. Fill them with everyday products like milk, cream, cheese, yogurt, butter, veggies, fruits… you can even add surplus products you already have to minimize waste.
- Stock other convenient add-on items like canned tomatoes, shredded cheese, condiments, tomato sauce… anything you think your customers will appreciate!
- Give customers the chance to purchase specialty items like your homemade pizza sauce, fresh pasta, fine cheese, olive oil, cured meats…
Help your customers turn at-home dining into a special occasion. Curate your menu items into themed food packages: include everything people need for a special dinner in a single box (or bag) for delivery or pick-up, and market them as a fun at-home foodie experience. Here are a few ideas to get started:
Concept 2 - Create themed food packages
- Movie night package: For a bundled price, offer your famous pizza with some local beer (if you have a license and if it’s allowed in your region) or soft drinks, plus candy and popcorn on the side.
- At-home apero: Put together a dining room happy hour with a local wine or sparkling drink, one or two fine cheeses, and gourmet sides like cured meats, olives, and bread – just like a cheese platter. You can also add an appetizer from your menu, as long as it travels well.
- Date night dinner: Include a popular appetizer, your signature pasta or pizza dish, dessert, and something special or unique to drink.
- Backyard family picnic: Include a selection of sandwiches and salads, packable drinks like Milk2Go, and snacks like cheese sticks, fruits and veggies.
Concept 3 - Offer DIY meal kits
Lots of people are rediscovering their love of cooking or learning to cook for the first time. We’ve seen many local restaurants tap into this trend by selling DIY meal kits to customers who are craving their favourite dishes.
Meal kits are a great way to serve up products you have on-hand while cutting down on prep time. They can also be implemented safely and don’t require many resources. All you need to do is portion out the ingredients and include an easy step-by-step recipe. The recipe can be as simple as a typed-up guide, but if you want to go the extra mile, you can also take pictures of every step and add them in. Here are a few ideas:
- Family pizza night: Use your pizza boxes to deliver pizza dough, sauce, Pizza Mozzarella cheese, and toppings. Pizza is a dish that can be made at home with help from the little ones. Add expert advice on how to shape the perfect pizza – people will appreciate your thoughtful approach!
- Your famous pasta sauce: Include all of the required veggies, fresh herbs, meats, and cheeses, alongside fresh or dried pasta and your pre-portioned in-house spice blend (some secrets are worth keeping).
- Brunch for two: This can be something as simple as pancakes with fresh fruits and cream, or something fancier like savoury cheese-stuffed crepes. Deliver this kit the night before for an extra special touch. Ingredients that require prep, like batter, can even come pre-made.
- Travel-inspired meals: Taco kits, simple yet delicious Italian dinners… whatever your restaurant’s specialty, simply pre-cut, portion, and prep the ingredients so people can enjoy global fare from the comfort of home.
Concept 4 - Cook up ready-to-heat meals
Some customers are too busy to cook right now, or simply don't have the energy. For them, ready-to-heat meals can be a lifesaver. Cook food in large batches, then freeze, can, or vacuum-seal portions in various sizes. You can sell these prepared foods online, through social media, or take orders by phone.
Either package your food by the portion or offer weekly menus that include a different meal every day. You can even set fixed prices per option and take orders in advance. For example, you can create boxes that include two, three, or five meals, or put together portions for one, two, or four people. Comforting, hearty meals like lasagna, mac and cheese, frozen pizza, etc. work best. Don't forget to include reheating instructions!
Since restaurants are experiencing a drop in foot traffic, promoting these creative offerings online is one of the best ways to reach a large audience. Here’s how to make your business shine online, and get customers excited about what you have to offer.