When COVID-19 Accelerated the Demand for Off-Premise Dining, Restaurants Sprang into Action

Published On: July 24, 2020

Even before March 2020, restaurant experts predicted the rise of off-premise dining options to meet growing consumer expectations for online ordering. The demand grew exponentially as consumers sought food options while sheltering in place to combat COVID. The rise of bundles, family packaged options and even of terms such as ‘contactless’ pickup and ‘touchless’ menus have become part of the new norm. While some brands were already in the off-premise groove, others had to develop and execute their plans at record speed. In addition to retaining a guest-first central focus, key factors to off-premise success lie in the combination of inventive new strategies with old-fashioned hard work, as evidenced by some of Fishbowl’s Emerging Brands.

  • Farm-to-table Dish Society was already entrenched in the delivery space prior to COVID, becoming a mainstay of food delivery options in the Houston area – no small feat for this 5 unit chain. With meals that travel well and the brands’ use of sustainable packaging, fans of Dish Society have enjoyed both dining in and taking out with regularity before any limitations began – and that has continued. As COVID restrictions ramped up, so did Dish Society’s commitment and creativity. Already partnered with local farmers, Dish Society created a virtual farmers market – patrons can browse for a wide selection of staples – including local produce, dairy and meat to hand sanitizer made by a local brewery and yes, even toilet paper.
  • Luke’s Lobster is beloved for their authentic Maine lobster rolls and commitment to using seafood purchased directly from certified sustainable fisheries. When the majority of their locations had to be closed for COVID-19 containment in April, Luke’s Lobster quickly adapted, launching their new online storefront within weeks. While local guests can still order from the menu via Luke’s website, anyone can become a Luke’s Lobster regular, thanks to delivery from their Saco, Maine seafood processing facility to guests nationwide. Lobster, oysters, crab, soups and seasonings are available – as well as the opportunity to sponsor a meal for front line workers.
  • Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que was no stranger to off-premise dining prior to COVID, but their highly portable comfort food and family options like the Easy Feast created unusually heavy demand once patrons began to shelter in place. Curbside delivery saw tremendous growth, rising exponentially since March (see Figure 1). While this is great news in terms of the nearly $3 million generated in April promotional sales alone, it is also a huge challenge to any brand’s operations team. Lucille’s met the challenge head on – facing overwhelming lines with a can-do attitude, working as a team to iron out any kinks in the new process, and keeping guest satisfaction top of mind. Depending on the location, guests can order Lucille’s online for pickup or delivery, or make a reservation to dine on the patio.

*Source: Fishbowl Promotions Manager

About Fishbowl
Fishbowl maximizes restaurant marketing performance by helping brand leaders realize the full potential – and optimize the value – of every guest.  We elevate ROI by understanding core drivers of guest engagement and providing tools and services to amplify digital marketing strategies. With the 2020 launch of Engage, Fishbowl further accelerates digital touchpoints, forging a new, vibrant chapter in restaurant marketing. Relied on by more than 45,000 restaurants to effectively engage guests, Fishbowl is headquartered in Alexandria, VA, with remote offices nationwide, as well as in the UK and India.


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