Restaurant owners adapting to COVID restrictions, expanding delivery services

Posted at 6:14 PM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 11:49:17-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — The pandemic is especially tough on restaurants right now, as dining rooms are closed in many places for a second time. However, restaurant owners are getting creative to make sure their businesses survive the winter season and the rest of the pandemic.

Because of the second shutdown, many restaurants like Paravicini's Itialian Bistro, are now shying away from third party delivery services and offering their own in-house delivery drivers instead. Therefore, waiters and waitresses who used to bring food to your table are now bringing food to your homes.

Chef Franco Pisani, who owns the Italian restaurant says, in order to survive the pandemic and keep all his employees, these changes to the business plan had to be made.

"We're trying to get away from third-party services which charges a lot of money," said Pisani. "Restaurant owners, right now are in survival mode, they're not making a profit. But we want to make sure that A) the restaurant stays afloat and B) all my employees are employed, especially during the holidays."

Pisani also owns Ristorante Di Sopra, and between the two restaurants, he employs about 80 people. He hasn't laid anyone off, and intends to keep it that way with some of the changes he's made.

When a customer orders delivery through third-party services like Grubhub, DoorDash or UberEats, Pisani says 25% of the cut gets taken away from his local restaurant, and goes to the services and drivers of the services instead. The reality is service changes vary based on the delivery service used by the customer.

"Now, when you're looking at where every dime counts, it's almost like price gouging for the restaurants," said Pisani. "Before, it wasn't really worth it to have your own drivers."

Greg Howard, president of the Pike's Peak Chapter - Colorado Restaurant Association says in-house delivery services are gaining popularity since the second shutdown began. He also mentioned
third-party services can be useful because they help get the restaurant's name and menu out to the public.

"The nice thing of the third-party deliveries is they're advertising for you. Somebody jumps on their app, and you pop up," said Howard, who owns several restaurants in town with business partners.

However, when a restaurant's revenue is relying solely on outdoor dining, to-go orders, and delivery, third party delivery services could hurt local businesses further.

"In a full, open environment, where all restaurants are open, third-party services are palatable, because your staff is already there servicing the dining room, so it's additional income," said Howard.
But during the pandemic, "a staff member who's boxing everything up, and packaging it, and making sure that the orders are right, that person gets no gratuity through those services. That's absolutely unsustainable."

While Paravicini's Italian Bistro isn't cutting the cord on third party delivery options, Pasini hopes in-house delivery options are a way of the future, where 100% of the gratuity goes to the restaurant employees.

"I can control that my staff stays employed, I can control that they get the gratuity, and i can control the quality of food," said Pasini. "I know that my server is going from the restaurant to the customer's home, and back."

You can support local businesses by buying gift cards or gift certificates to use at a later time. If you plan on ordering from a restaurant and would like it delivered, go directly to their website to see if they offer their own delivery.

Other restaurants offering their own delivery service include Jack Quinn's, Beasts and Brews, Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar, Slingers Smokehouse & Saloon, The French Kitchen, and Ambli Global.