The majority of the hospitality industry turned to launching takeaway and delivery services throughout the pandemic. However, with venues open again and customers looking to eat out, has the pandemic restaurant takeaway died a death?
Throughout the varying lockdowns, one thing which brought comfort to many was the ability to order takeaway.
As restaurants faced unprecedented challenges and customers were told to stay home, many turned to establishing home delivery and takeaway services to generate income.
From launching meal kits that provided us with restaurant-quality dishes to teaming up with businesses to create their own frozen dine-at-home range, businesses across the county have shown their determination to survive.
Teamwork makes the dream work
The owners of Cluny Bank Hotel, an award-winning restaurant with rooms in Forres, toyed with the idea of offering delivery and takeaway at the start of lockdown.
But being a two-person team, Julia Kenny and her husband, Lloyd, were apprehensive they would not be able to provide the same high quality food.
Julia, 56, said: “Lloyd and I were struggling to come up with dishes due to the logistics of how we could promote, deliver and ensure the food was a quality product.
“Just being the two of us, we knew we would have problems and didn’t want to offer something we knew we could not deliver.
“At the time our butcher, Macbeth’s, was experiencing an unprecedented demand for deliveries both locally and nationally and he was constantly being asked for ready meals.
“Jock, who owns Macbeth’s, approached us to see if we would be interested in coming up with a solution. Lloyd and I put our heads together and came up with a range of food that we could freeze and still maintain quality when it was defrosted and heated.
Although we didn’t make an awful lot of money from the service, it did certainly pay a few bills a month and kept our business in people’s minds during the pandemic.”
Julia Kenny, co-owner of Cluny Bank Hotel.
“We offered a range of soups, starters, main courses and some of our popular homely desserts – and we also offered sauces to complement the meat supplied by the butcher.
“In total, we had a range of 19 items ranging from £1.75 to £9.00.”
By teaming up with Macbeth’s, Cluny Bank Hotel, which opened its doors in June 2006, was able to deliver its dishes across the UK, with orders from the local community, Scottish Islands, London and Manchester.
Their items are still available to order on Macbeth’s website.
“For the first few months, we were selling about 400-500 items a month,” Julia said. “When we came out of the first lockdown, sales did decrease and have steadily dropped off since.
“Our products are still available at Macbeth’s butchers, although there has been a marked decrease in sales and we are now only selling a few items a week. We will probably wind the service down now as we are fairly busy with the restaurant again.
“Although we didn’t make an awful lot of money from the service, it did certainly pay a few bills a month and kept our business in people’s minds during the pandemic.
Difficult to offer both
While customers can still order Julia and Lloyd’s dishes online, many others have since seized the service. This includes Aberdour’s Room with a View Restaurant, which offered dishes for takeaway and local delivery.
The family-run seafood restaurant is set within the Forth View Hotel and opened its doors in June 2006.
Our takeaway service is absolutely the reason Room with a View is still here today and why we were able to keep all our staff.”
Hannah Norman, director and owner of Room with a View Restaurant.
Director and owner, Hannah Norman, who runs the venue with her husband and executive chef, Tim Robson, says they were dishing out 80-100 takeaway meals most Fridays and Saturdays during the lockdown periods.
But as demand started slowing down, she made the decision to stop the services.
“We launched takeaway meals and delivery to Aberdour on Mother’s Day 2020,” Hannah, 40, said.
“Some residents booked the same slot every week and supported us in such an overwhelming way through what was a difficult time.
“Our takeaway service was more popular than we ever imagined and we also expanded into seafood platters and afternoon teas as a result.
“Tim and I no longer offer takeaway due to opening again in April. We have been very busy and due to staffing, it’s difficult to offer both.
“Takeaway stopped just before we reopened as things started to slow down on deliveries once places began to reopen and life became more ‘normal’.
“But our takeaway service is absolutely the reason Room with a View is still here today and why we were able to keep all our staff.
“It also kept our name going as we couldn’t just sit and do nothing and hope the government was going to help us as we just had no idea how long it was going to go on for.”
New services were necessity
As for Paul Patterson, restaurant manager of Montgomerie Restaurant, a takeaway and delivery service was something his team had always avoided.
However with little option, it proved a lifeline for the business, which can be found at Inverurie’s Golf Club in Aberdeenshire.
Paul said: “Like many others, we had to completely rethink our operation in line with government restrictions on hospitality to keep our staff and customers safe.
“Offering takeaway was always something we’d steered away from in the past. Our restaurant had always been busy enough without it, but the current climate meant that we had to be proactive and explore every option in order to keep our restaurant open.”
Aware of how popular online ordering apps such as JustEat and Deliveroo have become, Paul took the opportunity to develop an online ordering site via their website.
“It has really been a game-changer for our takeaway service,” he added.
“It’s so easy to order, our customers simply need to visit our website, place their order, pick their collection/delivery time and make a payment.
“We have ended up being so busy with online takeaway orders on some occasions that we have to briefly take ourselves offline in order for the kitchen to catch up.
“It is still very popular, despite people being allowed to dine in. It has really added a new dynamic to our business.”