Making the take out/drive through business model work for restaurants in wake of coronavirus pandemic

Making the take out/drive through business model work for restaurants in wake of coronavirus pandemic

SOUTHPORT, N.C. (WECT) - Dozens upon dozens of area restaurants have been struggling with a new business model these last few weeks: take out or delivery only. But Gourmet to Go and Catering in Southport, NC, has run its business on that plan for years.

“We did a demographic study and found this is an area rich with seniors who don’t want to cook,” said owner Carolyn Gherardi. “I retired and now I’m working 90 hours a week, people are just so grateful.”

Gourmet to Go and Catering is a tiny place, roughly 14 feet by 28 feet. An entrance with a few freezers and cash register greet you walking in the door. Behind the two chalkboard swinging doors, which announce today’s specials, is a kitchen where a crew of three, help pump out more than 100 meals a day.

“The menu changes every day, so our menu is blasted out to our customers on Facebook and they start calling immediately, as soon as it goes out,” said Chef Thomas Scirrotto. “We like to know the deliveries first before prepping walk up meals. It gives me about hours notice."

If you blink twice you may miss the pint-sized building located at 105 West George Street.

The coronavirus scare has tweaked the business model. It used to be catering and walk up, but now 75% of the business is delivery.

For restaurants struggling, to stay open up and down the southeastern North Carolina coast, Gherardi says believe in your customers. If they believe in you, they’ll be back.

“You’ve got to be flexible, you’ve got to figure out how you can reinvent yourself," said Gherardi. “People here, locally, want to support local businesses, you have to figure out what they need and meet that need.”

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