As Britain hunkers down into yet another lockdown, its finest restaurants are adapting to takeout and delivery as a way of life.
The Wall Street Journal reports that several of London’s most posh establishments have been painstakingly trying to recreate the fine dining experience using takeout cartons and white-glove delivery service.
One winner during the lockdown has been delivery service Supper Ltd., which specializes in transporting gourmet cuisine. Business for the app-based company has heated up since the pandemic, with the WSJ reporting that fourth-quarter revenue mushroomed to 10 times what was seen in the same period for 2019.
Supper Ltd. utilizes three-wheeled Honda Gyro mopeds that have been designed not to tilt when turning, which helps keeps food containers stable. The service also encourages drivers to dress up and act more like waiters than deliverers to help elevate the takeout dining experience, the WSJ said.
Other restaurants have hired their own drivers, including underemployed professional chauffeurs who can use their luxury vehicles to deliver haute cuisine.
Packing and packaging fine cuisine has proven to be challenging, but not impossible, restaurants told the WSJ. Chefs and their staffs are going to great lengths to figure out the best way to transport cuisine that ordinarily wouldn’t travel well. Some dishes require final assembly at home to prevent wilting or overcooking, while others need specialized containers. Even champagne gets special treatment to make sure it isn’t shaken during transport.
“It’s a whole new mindset,” Martyn Nail, executive chef at Claridge’s in Mayfair, told the WSJ. “We’re thinking [about] how we put things in boxes and travel them around London.”
London isn’t the only major city where restaurants are experimenting with adapting the fine-dining experience to the “new normal” of pandemic social distancing.
After Boston Italian restaurant Stella closed its doors due to pandemic losses, chef and owner Evan Deluty reinvented Stella as a gourmet food truck. Deluty told Boston.com, “I’m not into opening a brick-and-mortar right now. I think most people are trying to lay low and [are in] survival mode.”
The pandemic has pushed fine restaurants to adopt not just takeout, but also digital ordering and payments, which could transform how the sector does business in the future.
Seated’s CEO Brice Gumpel told PYMNTS this summer that he’s bullish on fine dining’s future. Seated offers a mobile app and booking-and-rewards platform that incentivizes customers to dine in upscale, full-service restaurants (FSRs).
Gumpel recently launched Seated At Home for fine-dining delivery. The platform works with courier services rather than mainstream aggregators, who are more knowledgeable of the fine dining clientele and the delicacy of gourmet meals.
FSRs must get smart at pickup and delivery, because the name of the game in the recovery for these fine-dining establishments is more revenue per location, Gumpel told PYMNTS. “Rather than have 1 percent of your revenue come from pickup and delivery, have it be 20 percent of your revenue, and really bolster that,” he advised.