By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
While most restaurant patrons are accustomed to ordering delivery for pizza, Chinese food, sandwiches and a few other types of cuisine, their options widened considerably when the pandemic shut down in-person dining in 2020. Offering delivery provided a means for many eateries to continue to make money, even as virus-wary customers have begun to make their way back to the table.
Mimi’s Drive-In, a Fulton staple since 1970, still offers delivery. Co-owner Chris Sachel said that although it’s a small portion of his business, “We’re always looking for new revenue streams because business is tough, and we’ve always got to find any avenue to make a buck and keep people happy.”
The only way he would end delivery is if the employment issue worsens. He used DoorDash at one point. However, the fees it incurred cost him more money than he made. That is why employees handle delivery.
He tries to offer free delivery. However, he must charge $5 for orders less than $25 or the expenses of delivery gobble up his profit margin. Most people ordering delivery are in a group anyway, such as a doctor’s office ordering lunch for all the staff.
Sachel has also experimented with curbside pick-up, but his property’s layout made that option difficult. Curbside service requires designated parking spots and his lot has too many cars coming and going to make it work. Patrons struggled to understand the curbside concept and seemed more familiar with the restaurant’s take-out option.
For John Tassone, owner of Tassone’s Wine Garden in Baldwinsville, going with Grubhub made sense as staffing was already challenging. He began using the delivery service during the summer of 2020 and has continued. He is considering adding DoorDash in the future.
Tassone’s added curbside delivery, “a big hit, and we are still doing it,” Tassone said.
His customer base is aged 45-plus, people who tend to be more hesitant to eat out because of COVID-19. To reach a crowd more inclined to both use online ordering and to dine in the restaurant, he retooled his advertising to reach the 25-45 age crowd to build up that customer base.
“We’re starting to see more online ordering,” he said.
From early in the pandemic, the curbside and Grubhub orders have quadrupled, which Tassone said has helped keep the restaurant going.
Once pandemic restrictions have been lifted, he hopes to cease delivery services. While thankful that the delivery service has provided another means for customers to access his food, the fees take a big chunk of his profit.
“We’re starting to gain the parties we lost, …….