With the effects of the COVID-19 hysteria looming over our Hawaii foodservice industry, a lot of small businesses are having a hard time dealing with the lack of customers at a time of year when business is usually pumping. Cancellations of events are felt not just by restaurants & hotels but also flower shops who do all the floral arrangements or leis for venues, non-food suppliers who supply the foodservice establishments, all the way down to the farmers who work hard all season to grow fresh crops. Instead of sitting back & worrying, a lot of businesses are fighting back and coming up with brilliant ways to get them through this rough patch. Here are some ideas that I thought were worth mentioning:
CURBSIDE PICK UP:
Of course everyone is pushing for customers to call in for take-out but a lot of restaurants who may not have advertised this in the past such as 3660 on the Rise are now offering curbside pick-ups. Also restaurants like Fete Hawaii offer online ordering along with curb-side pick up. Many other restaurants offer this service as well so make sure you ask your favorite restaurant how you can order take-out either by phone or online.
A REMINDER TO SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SMALL BUSINESSES
island olive oil company reminds people that you can still shop there for your pasta instead of making a run on your local grocery store. Also beef Jerky is a nutritious food that keeps well for long periods. If Costco is out of your favorite Jerky go check out small businesses like Snack addicted for their amazing beef Jerky. Supporting each other by supporting local businesses.
MOVING YOUR BUSINESS ONLINE
Not only are restaurants starting to have convenient services such as online ordering & google reservations, they are creating non-perishable goods to sell for pick up or online. From sauces, oils to jams and even meat! Butcher & Bird offers a 'Baller Pack' of $250 worth of USDA prime meat that is vacuum packed and ready to throw into the freezer or right onto your grill. They will vacuum seal any order small or large. A great way to get cuts of meat you want if your local grocery store is out. Not to mention, supporting a local small business!
Also worth mentioning is Garlic Lime Chili or @garliclimechili808 on instagram which is now offering a 20% discount for online orders from March 15th to the end of the month with promo code: COVID-19. Such a great way to get peoples attention and a promo code you CAN'T forget!
GIFT CARDS & GIFT CERTIFICATES
Many businesses in this industry in combination with the high cost of doing business in Hawaii in general, work off of VERY small margins. Gift cards & certificates can offer businesses a small reprieve to get through this slow time. Noodle club of Waimea is advertising their gift certificates to give to a friend in need or to keep for a later date. That way when things settle down you can go in & redeem them for their awesome services!
LIMITING DINE-IN SEATING
Some restaurants such as Buzz's steakhouse in Kailua have opted to limit their seating by taking away tables & barstools to minimize the risk of spreading the infection in conjunction with upping their sanitation practices. They are also recommending to call them for take out if you don't want to dine-in. This is a bold move but this will not only reduce the task of having to sanitize many surfaces but also reduces the risk of large crowds. A commendable move for the safety of their employees & customers.
Verde Hawaii in Kauai has also announced that they are practicing social distancing by alternating tables for their dine in customers. This limits seating but at least gives customers some distance between each other & gives employees time to sanitize tables between parties - very creative!
GOING ON THE ROAD - TRUNK SALES OR FREE DELIVERY
A lot of smaller businesses who rely on the open markets & pop-up food truck style events to sell their products are trying to figure out ways to keep afloat. Farmers are sitting on perishable goods that they don't want to see go to waste! I see some farmers setting up tables where they can such as empty schools on the weekend or other empty parking lot areas so as not to create too much of a crowd.
Some small bakers are asking department stores or shopping malls to set up small tables to display their baked goods they had prepared for an event that was cancelled. When events are cancelled at the last minute, not only do the vendors have to worry about getting their booth fees back but now they are sitting on product they had to buy ingredients for.
Other companies like Punaluu Pastures in Kailua is asking their customers to pick-up fresh eggs directly from their farm because of cancellations. If you have a favorite vendor you pick up perishable goods from please contact them to see if you can pick up direct or where they are setting up their tables.
One very savvy business owner Dipped By Dee who has made it known that her location is hard to find because of all the food trucks that sit parked in front of her little store, is advertising trunk sales where she drives out to locations across Oahu. If customers can't come to her - she will come to them!
Other companies are offering FREE delivery as well so keep an eye out for these options.
MEAL DELIVERY SERVICES - REQUESTING NO CONTACT DELIVERY
In an email sent out by Doordash, they are now offering a no-contact option for delivery. In the delivery instructions you can indicate you want 'no-contact'. Once your driver is assigned, you can text the driver to remind them of the no-contact option and an image of the delivery location. Your 'Dasher' will confirm with you once the order is delivered along with a confirmation on the app. Just one way these meal delivery services are trying to adapt to the current situation.
It is well known that in Hawaii, when we prep for disasters the first thing we grab is spam, bottled water & toilet paper. You can't blame us because we are water locked and all our supplies have to be brought in via barge or airplane. But it's funny how it has swept the nation - did we start this trend? Quite possibly but now the people who actually need toilet paper cannot get! This lack of supply for common items has caused more hysteria.
Some companies are taking advantage of this situation with clever marketing. Like Purve donuts who have posted a contest offering the winner a 6-pack of toilet paper if they subscribe to their instagram, like that post & tag a friend. Contest ends Sunday 3/15 but they not saying when so hurry up & get those comments in!
Other companies have made cheeky posts about trading a roll of toilet paper for a beer or ON THE WALL's post says "there's no Corona here, only Local beer!"
In all seriousness, this situation will only get worse so if we can help share some ideas to help companies pivot & adjust to this new way of doing business or inspire others to get just as creative with marketing and offer solutions, that's what we're here for. We at PAC RIM REPS are not on the front lines of the foodservice industry but we are very much a part of it & feel the stress as much as these business owners do. #notsponsered Even if you don't buy anything from any of the amazing Foodservice Manufacturers we represent, we still want see everyone get through this together & succeed.
- PAC RIM REPS, Honolulu HI