6 clever restaurant innovations in response to the pandemic

All businesses, but especially those whose business model is premised on people needing to be physically present in order to engage with them commercially; need to be doing everything they can to survive at this time.

All businesses, but especially those whose business model is premised on people needing to be physically present in order to engage with them commercially; need to be doing everything they can to survive at this time.

It is in this time that innovation is your #1 tool, and in the spirit of this inventiveness - here are a few ideas of how restaurants in particular can innovate in order to stay in business.

#1 Start organising your re-opening event now

Lockdown will end at some point and when it does you want to celebrate with a HUGE relaunch event. Start planning it now - sell the tickets for it now - organise the band and hand-sanitizer for it now. Nobody knows when this will happen for sure, but you know that you have an audience gagging to get back out there.

If your restaurant is in Bree Street - I would lobby Alan Winde and Tim Harris to close the street down when lockdown is over, collaborate with each other and host the biggest re-open party the city has ever seen. Understandably we don't know what rules will apply at that time, but have a loose plan in place.

#2 Build relationships with new partners

The lockdown is the perfect time to reassess your path and possibly even innovate some of what you offer. Spend time rethinking your relationships and partnerships and consider how new, fresh ones may bring in a brand new clientele. Source more product from local suppliers, relook at the wine list, spend time consider new options and those that you can partner with to make them happen.

Chat to Sheryl at the Oranjezicht City Farmers Market about getting more of your stock from local farmers, speak to the folks at Steelcut Sprits about developing unique cocktails as a part of a collaboration with them etc etc. No is the time to innovate in partnership with others.

#3 Start a food subscription service

'While meal kit services have become a fixture over the past few years, the subscription service model represents all-new terrain for restaurants. Prior to COVID-19, purchasing a meal subscription from your favourite restaurant did not even exist as a concept. Now, it’s become the latest innovation in a year long shift away from traditional restaurant sales towards takeout. Customers sign up for a plan with their favourite restaurant, and their meals are delivered or picked up at a pre-determined time. Subscriptions provide business with steady, reliable income amidst all the uncertainty.' via

It has been done by the tannie around the corner in Edgemead for years - meal subscriptions are a great way to deliver meals to people in lockdown or as a long-term strategy.

#4 Offer mealkits

It's not just Woolies and UCook that should be experimenting with the global trend of mealkits.

'Some restaurants are deconstructing their favourite dishes, packaging the ingredients with instructions, and delivering them as meal kits to their hungry customers. Not only are meal kits a fun divergence from typical takeout fare, they’re generally more cost-effective for the average family looking to feed four to five people.

"To boost our takeout we've added something called ‘Family to go for 4,’” says Gwen Holtsclaw from ScrubOaks Restaurant, Fayetteville, North Carolina. “We've taken our top entrees and now you can get Chicken Alfredo, enough for four people, for what it would cost for three people in the restaurant."' - via

I'm almost sure that you can also open up this business stream to a national audience through an online retailer like Yuppiechef. If you'd like an introduction I can certainly hook you up with the right people there - just get in touch with me.

#5 Go online

Exercise studios are pivoting quickly onto an online environment, there is no reason restaurants can't do it too.

View this post on Instagram

Amongst all the madness + the temporary closure of sister venues @silver.lyan @superlyan @lyan.cub we thought we’d bring you a bit of light relief in the form of some tasty how to DIY cocktails and ideas that you can keep yourself busy and topped up while at home. Kicking off with @mrlyan’s how to DIY martini, brought to you from Ryan’s own home trolley. Catch our IGTV for the full vid How to: Martini / cocktail You’ll need: 2 parts spirit 1 part vermouth/sherry/fortified – reduce if using a sweetener 2 dashes bitters How to: Stir over ice. Strain into frozen glass and garnish with a herb or citrus or whatever is to hand We’d love to see what you’ve been up to so please share away and please message in if you have any questions! #martini #mrlyan #homebar #diymartini #drinkstrolley #imbibegram #LyanessBar #cocktailvideos #mixology #homemadedrinks #gincocktails #drinksathome #drinksrecipes #martinis #martinigram

A post shared by Lyaness — cocktail bar (@lyanessbar) on

'With many of the world’s workers stuck at home, there’s never been a better time to dust off those cookbooks and learn to make that dish you’ve always wanted to master. Fortunately, the world’s best chefs are on hand to help, with many posting recipes and videos on their Instagram channels. Under the #KitchenQuarantine initiative, Osteria Francescana chef Massimo Bottura is keeping followers entertained with upbeat daily cooking videos and Q&As from his home with his two children and wife Lara Gilmore. In Lima, José del Castillo of Isolina is publishing recipes for comforting Peruvian meals, and a Spanish-language channel and hashtag #YoMeQuedoEnCasaCocinando (‘I stay at home cooking’) has launched with chefs including Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz. London bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana is also posting cocktail how-tos on Instagram.' - via

#6 Sell gift certificates

Trust me people cannot wait to get back to going out and enjoying a nice at a new restaurant when this thing is over.

Help your customers imagine the amazing evening they are going to have in the future by selling gift certificates online now. This also gives friends the opportunity to 'lock-in' that long awaited dinner date catchup when this thing blows over and helps a bit with your cashflow.

Now is not the time to be thinking about growth, or taking over the world, or winning a Michelin-star or any of that other stuff - you're in survival mode and need to stay agile. The mindset is doing whatever it takes to just stay in business.

If you need a few more options  or could use some additional innovation facilitation, coaching and brainstorming then get in touch.