With restaurants switching gears because of Coronavirus fears, many are jumping on a newly devised (yet, old-school approach) of offering only carryout/curbside or even starting delivery options.
That was the genesis behind CurbsideKC.com, a new website dedicated to ordering out, but staying in. “I started hearing on Friday from a lot of restaurants on our Open Belly podcast that they were starting to get worried with the situation and business slowing down,” says podcast creator Danielle Lehman. “But it was really hard to see a centralized list, so I started a website on Saturday morning with a starting list of 20 restaurants—with a link for restaurants to add themselves. I didn’t expect it to go viral so quickly.”
In less than 48 hours, the website has seen over 10,000 visitors—with a whopping 250 local restaurants now included in the mix. More are being added by the hour. “It’s crazy how quickly it’s expanded,” says Lehman.
Lehman says it doesn’t come as a surprise with Kansas City being such a foodie town, but there are a few things she wants folks to keep in mind. “A lot of the owners are concerned about their wait staff, which relies on tips from in-person dining,” says Lehman. So what I’m encouraging people to do is to tip at least 20% on take-out orders, so they can keep people employed. We don’t know how long this is going to last. At this point, we’re taking it an hour at a time.”
Chrissy Nucum, owner of KC Pinoy in the West Bottoms, says her restaurant has been especially hard hit, but she’s cautiously optimistic. “We appreciate all the help that everyone has given us. We’re lucky enough that we do have loyal customers and customers who stop by and share our posts. We do have that and appreciate it tremendously—but it doesn’t get to the level where we can survive,” she says. “It’s a good feeling to have people rallying behind you to weather the storm—but you still have to take care of your employees at the end of the day. For a lot of restaurant owners, that’s priority. People do end up bouncing back, no matter what. I grew up in a third-world country so I know what bouncing back looks like and it can happen—and it will.”
Meanwhile, if you’re worried about the safety of takeout and delivery? Lehman says restaurants are one of the most highly regulated businesses when it comes to health and sanitation. Many are taking extraordinary precautions on top of what’s already required to ensure everything is safe.
If you’re a restaurant that wants to be added, Lehman is doing her best to keep up with the influx. “Right now, we have take-out, curbside takeout, and delivery options,” says Lehman. “That could change—as I’m not sure what to expect. I’m adapting it as we go.”