It seems silly to offer tips for something like ordering takeout, but takeout isn’t what it was six months ago. I don’t know about you but takeout is such a treat these days.
The Department of Agriculture is promoting the #Great American Takeout Movement, a time to encourage Americans to support restaurants. So while many of you have been in the takeout mode for weeks I’d just like to pass along these tips, especially for newbies, to help make the process smoother for all involved while staying safe. FYI, Scientists say there has been no evidence to date of food-borne transmission of Covid-19.
“The Great American Takeout is a perfect opportunity to do our part as consumers to help, so I’m encouraging Floridians to show your support, enjoy your favorite local restaurant serving fresh Florida-grown food, and #KeepCalmAndTakeOut,” said state Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried.
Also, keep in mind that many places have gone from 1 percent (or even less) of takeout business to 100 percent, so there are bound to be adjustments.
I’d love to hear your suggestions whether you’re a restaurant or a customer.
- Remember that details are fluid and restaurants may change their hours. Check restaurant social media sites for updates. If you can’t reach a place on the first try, try again. Many restaurants have reduced their staffs and they may be down to two or three people doing the cooking, packing up the food and answering phones.
- Many restaurants ask that diners order directly from the restaurant because 1) delivery services generally charge a fee to the restaurant and 2) many restaurants are employing waitstaff and other non-kitchen employees as delivery drivers to keep their staff working so it’s a source of income for them.
- Aim for curbside delivery for the least contact. In many cases now, you don’t even have to get out of your car. My husband wears gloves to to take the bag from the staffer, but you can also ask the server/runner to put your order in the back seat or trunk. (Opt out of plastic utensils; less contact and who needs more plastic anyway?)
- At home, leave the outermost bag outside and toss in the trash. Carry the containers inside and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Then transfer the food to your own dishware and containers and wash your hands again. Toss the emptied containers. Wipe down/disinfect your counter.
- Pay by credit card online or by phone beforehand if that’s an option. Include a tip, and if you can swing it, more than the standard 20 percent. Restaurant employees and deliverers can truly use whatever you can afford. And think of their risks. Sage, for one, notes that all gratuities given on Curbside Pickup orders are donated to a fund for their hourly staff. Due to COVID-19, Sage had to lay off hourly staff so this is a way to help.
- A lot of places are now using electronic payment methods only. But in case you have to sign a receipt, bring your own pen so you don’t have to use the communal pen. Restaurants disinfect their pens, but using your own is one less risk.
- If you’re getting delivery, ask the delivery person to leave the items on your doorstep or in a cooler you leave outside. Leave the tip in advance.
- If you don’t want to get takeout, consider buying restaurant gift cards for later. It’s a little like insurance, helping the restaurant to stay open so it’ll be there when this is over. And you’ll get pre-paid meal. We’ve come across Hunger to Help, a one-stop site that makes it easy to buy gift cards from a variety of restaurants. If you don’t see what you want, check the restaurant’s’ Facebook page for information or give them a call. The Hunger to Help site also has a first responders fund. hungertohelp.com/…
Some more information from the Department of Agriculture:
Restaurants are expecting nationwide losses as high as $225 billion, and job losses that account for over half of U.S. jobs lost in March.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is sharing lists from local media across Florida of restaurants open for business offering takeout, curbside service, and delivery. Click to see what’s open in these areas: Miami and Broward, Palm Beach, Fort Myers and Naples, Brevard, Orlando, Tampa Bay, Sarasota and Bradenton, Gainesville, Jacksonville, St. Augustine and St. Johns, Tallahassee, and Pensacola.
“COVID-19 has severely impacted over 41,000 eating and drinking establishments across Florida that support more than 825,000 jobs,” said Carol Dover, President & CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “Our restaurants are struggling and need our help. The ongoing Great American Takeout campaign is an easy way for Floridians to show support for their local restaurants during this challenging time. We encourage everyone who can to participate by ordering takeout so that Florida’s restaurant workers, who live to create meaningful experiences for their guests, will be able to welcome guests again as soon as it is safe to do so.”