With curbside pick-up and delivery the only service models currently available for restaurants in North Carolina, many Port City eateries have had to change their business models practically overnight.
Prior to the restrictions implemented by Gov. Roy Cooper's recent executive orders, owners of both South Beach Grill, 100 S. Lumina Ave. in Wrightsville Beach, and Sweet n Savory Cafe, 1611 Pavilion Place off Eastwood Road, said that take-out sales accounted for less than 5% of their business.
Now, John and Elaine Andrews of South Beach Grill and Rob Shapiro of Sweet n Savory have worked to embrace the challenge of running a restaurant with curbside pick-up and delivery as their only options.
It’s been just over a year since South Beach Grill reopened after being closed for several months following Hurricane Florence. But John Andrews said he is optimistic that if he can keep his doors open and retain as much of his staff as possible during this time, he will be stronger for it on the other side.
He has been working with neighboring businesses such as Kohl’s Custard to place communal orders because some suppliers require minimum orders, which can be hard to meet right now. He’s buying fresh fish each day, sometimes twice a day, from Mott’s Channel and Seaview Crab Co. to ensure everything is as fresh as possible and nothing goes to waste.
He also said that he’s thankful for a partnership with Cape Fear Delivery, which has modified its fees for local businesses and offered coupons to customers.
“They have really stepped up to help us stay open,” John Andrews said.
South Beach is currently offering its core menu as availability allows, as well as several family-style meals for two or four, quarts of clam chowder and family-style sides, Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. See its Facebook page
for daily updates and pricing.
Free delivery is available on the island, and in-town delivery is available through Cape Fear Delivery.
Shapiro said he has been able to keep a core staff of about 11 employees at Sweet n Savory who are adapting daily to the new rules and regulations. He has cut back his base menu by about two-thirds, cut menu prices by about 40% and implemented family-style meals.
While breakfast and lunch sales have plummeted, Shapiro said his dinner sales are up by about 25 to 30% leaving him with about 50 to 60% of his previous sales overall.
“We’re selling 100 to 150 family meals a night,” Shapiro said. “And the staff is enjoying coming up with new ideas for those. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.”
Shapiro said the family meals have been so popular that he foresees keeping them on the menu once the restaurant is able to reopen for in-house dining.
Family-style meals feed two adults and two children and include a choice of three courses for $24.99. Selections are posted nightly for the following day to Sweet n Savory’s Facebook page
“It’s too soon to know what our new normal will be once this is over, but I’m incredibly grateful that my staff has remained positive and is so committed to continuing to serve the community,” Shapiro said. “We’re coming up with new ways each day to adapt and improve that service. We want to offer people some hope, some good food and a smile.”
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