Autumn Stanford, who owns Brooklyn Kolache, Swelldive, and Tailfeather in Brooklyn, is still operating a delivery service, selling gift cards, and has opened up a fund for undocumented workers who are not eligible to collect unemployment. She sees going old-school with their delivery model by selling directly to customers, and not through services like Grubhub or Seamless, as an opportunity. Because people have become so accustomed to paying service or delivery fees, they will still charge those, but it will go into the pockets of the business and its staff. Creativity is key in uncertain times.
“From what I can tell, they're not really going to bail out the small businesses,” says Stanford. “The city said, ‘Oh, we're gonna have a grant and we're going to offer these small loans, but I've filled out all the paperwork and nothing has happened.’”
One restaurant that has successfully pivoted to a new model that’s mixed delivery, pickup, pop-up, and donation is Addo in Seattle, owned by chef Eric Rivera -- who’s admittedly always had an “all over the place” business model. Though 60 percent of the restaurant’s revenue was based on tasting menus, a chef’s counter experience, and brunch, he was able to reach out to his regular clientele and ask what they need. The answer has resulted in a range of offerings, from three meals for $95 that come with a bottle of wine per person, to $9 “Addo for the People” bowls at different spots around the city. Folks have chipped in enough money to cover 1,000 bowls so that anyone who’s hungry can partake free of charge. He’s been able to move some of his employees from part to full-time and is still on track to offer them health insurance soon.
“It's just been getting people to understand it and go, ‘Hey, we're all in the same boat,’” says Rivera. “But on our side, you know, with a restaurant, we can do whatever we want. We're not beholden to just being an Italian restaurant, right? We're cooks, man. Dude, it's not rocket science, you know? So for us, it's really in that spirit of going like, ‘Fuck yeah, we cook anything, always’ then just packaging it up, making sure we're following all the rules.”