All through the pandemic, the proclamations, “Takeout is here to stay!” and, “Diner behavior is forever changed!” rang through the industry. But now, with dine-in ramped up and patio season in full swing, do the to-go and delivery menus hold as much power? Nope, says chef-owner Elise Wiggins of Cattivella in Aurora. “Based on what my regulars say, they don’t want to eat out of a to-go container for a long, long time.” While Cattivella’s menu will still be available to go, Wiggins doesn’t plan on actively promoting it.
But this comes from a restaurant that didn’t have much of a takeout or delivery presence prior to the shutdowns. What about eateries originally conceived with takeaway in mind? Take Steuben’s in Denver, which since opening in 2006, has had a nook dedicated to carryout. At the height of the pandemic, the Uptown restaurant had a staff of 10 managing curbside and delivery orders, and it was so busy that owner Josh Wolkon says he had to set up Metro shelving to handle volume.
While to-go is still a viable source of revenue, Wolkon is keeping a close eye on third-party delivery fees. “We negotiated below 15 percent, but if those go up, that’ll be the first thing I get rid of,” he says. He also explains it would be chaos to continue filling takeout and delivery orders at pandemic levels while also balancing a full dining room. Wolkon’s rule of thumb: “We prioritize in-house tickets…[and] we turn off delivery almost nightly.”
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