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How Restaurant Menus Are Changing In A Delivery-Centric Era

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When it comes to refocusing entirely on delivery, menus are shifting toward classics, comfort food, simpler preparations, staples, and larger formats. But while some menus have gotten shorter, they’ve also added new experiments and specials—sometimes even a few little extras, like a bonus roll of TP.

Photos: Courtesy Salty Donut.

Andy Rodriguez
Cofounder, The Salty Donut, Miami

Before the crisis, our pickup and delivery was minimized to just five or six items. Now we’ve opened it to our entire menu, and we also added our entire coffee program as well. We tailored our menu as well—something like a macchiato, for example, is not going to deliver all that great. We took it off the menu. We focused more on iced beverages and iced lattes that could come without ice in the cup—things that will last and deliver better. Then we started to get creative with the product mix, like baked goods that are not donuts specifically, which we usually do once a month in a farmer’s market-style environment at our stores. Now that’s available for delivery too. So on top of 9 of our usual 12 donuts available for delivery, we added baked goods that could be savory, frozen … we did a brioche loaf. We did a cheddar biscuit. We did a chocolate chip and salt cookie. And then we did honey butter and strawberry jam. We’re trying to give people the opportunity to like, Hey, you could use us like you always used us, but If you want to order things from us that are more versatile, we can use our production space, we can use our expertise in pastry to do that too.

Photo: Courtesy Chubby Noodle.

Peter Mrabe
Founder/owner, Chubby Noodle, San Francisco

At all of our restaurants, our delivery menus were designed to travel well. We just didn’t deliver anything that didn’t work for delivery—like, we wouldn’t sell a ribeye steak to go. But we’ll sell a steak burrito because it travels. We’ll sell stewed meats instead of grilled, so they’re hot when they get to you. We package everything cold in one bag, hot in another bag. Right now we’re only doing Chubby Noodle out of the marina because that location has a huge kitchen where we can actually produce and keep everything super tight. We’re adding another menu to that location this week, and it’s going to be a Tex-Mex menu formatted especially for delivery and takeout. It’s definitely inspired by the freshness and the quality at Chubby Noodle, but the flavors and dishes are very Texas.

Photo: Courtesy Furious Spoon.

Shin Thompson
Chef/founder, Furious Spoon, Chicago

Now that everything is shifted towards our delivery service and delivery platforms, how do we market in this environment? It’s getting ultra-competitive with what everyone offers online. It changed the landscape. So we started getting creative and brainstorming ideas. We started different packages. One of the packages we’re doing is called the “We Got Your Back Bundle,” which is two bowls of ramen, two drinks, and an appetizer, and we throw in a free roll of toilet paper. That was a good thing. I think people really enjoyed getting a toilet paper roll in their delivery. We started putting one in every delivery order, and it took off on social media. We added several alcohol packages and bundles of make-it-at-home cocktail kits—like an at-home beer pong package, where we deliver cups and also beer. Even though we’re in the middle of a pandemic, we’re still keeping some aspects lighthearted.