By Heidi Billotto
It’s been a minute since we’ve seen the inside of our favorite restaurant. We miss the clink of glasses, the aroma of multiple dishes hovering in the air and the background of happy chatter as we savor our meal.
Lucky for us, many restaurants continue to offer take-out with curbside pickup and are now offering online ordering and delivery options, as well. All of which allows us all to still practice safe distancing with minimal contact, and enjoy a wonderful locally prepared meal in the process.
Food and Flexibility
As restaurants and chefs continue to pivot, adapt and navigate through the Covid-19 crisis, look for more take-and-bake options, chef-driven DIY recipe kits and grocery options on restaurant menus.
The groceraunt is quickly becoming a way for restaurants to drive traffic and sales, offering patrons the basics like flour, milk, bread and butter, as well as bleach, hand sanitizer and toilet paper, along with your breakfast, lunch or dinner order.
On many farm to table restaurant menus, customers can now order boxes of seasonal produce from the local farms. This twist on shopping local is a win-win to keep chef and the farmer relations and our local food chain strong and continuing to thrive. It all goes to help “feed” our craving for meals from the restaurants we love.
The best way to keep up with day-to-day openings, closing and menu changes is social media. It’s all happening too fast for chefs and restaurants to update websites. Follow your favorites on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to individual restaurant email newsletters for the most up-to-date info.
How can else can you help your favorite local chefs and restaurants? No doubt, ordering take out and to-go as often as you can will make a difference. If you’re in a position to do so, tip more than you would under regular circumstances. Buy a meal for an out-of-work friend or neighbor who might not be able to afford the luxury for themselves right now.
And, purchase gift cards and certificates from all your favorite local restaurants, B&Bs and hotels to use when doors and travel open again. Think of these as the answer to all of your upcoming birthday, anniversary, holiday and teacher thank-you gift giving needs. Now, more than ever, this additional income means the world to the Carolinas’ chefs, restaurants hospitality workers. Often these funds go to displaced and furloughed staff to help with food, bills and expenses while they are out of work.
As we shelter in place, it’s our continued support of local businesses that will help keep the doors open and the wheels turning. Even if you opt to make all your meals at home right now, the time will come when we will be on the other side of this crisis, and we’ll all be ready to go out to eat with friends and family once again.
When the Doors Open
Why not start making plans now, with a list of all the new places you want to try and old favorites you can’t wait to eat at again? To help you get going with a list of your own, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite food-centric posts. We invite you to take a look back and enjoy, as we all safely and patiently wait to move forward.
Heidi Billotto is a Charlotte-based food writer and restaurant critic. She also offers cooking classes and catering. Read more about Heidi at HeidiBillottoFood.com.