Restaurants Evolve to Provide Pantry Staples

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Between the long lines and empty shelves plaguing grocery shoppers during the COVID-19 pandemic, some restaurants are adapting to provide an alternative for keeping the pantry stocked.

Chip's has been serving up burgers in Dallas for nearly 40 years.

Like many restaurants, it’s seen revenue fall by nearly 50% and been forced to part ways with staff considered family.

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As owner Brent Gamster looked for ways to stay afloat while helping a community also hurting, he had an idea to pivot from his usual menu.

Though they're still serving up the burgers and milkshakes people have always enjoyed, Chip's is offering everything from fresh produce to meat, bread, latex gloves, bleach and tough-to-find toilet paper.

“Unfortunately, there was nothing available [in stores], so we were able to lean on our relationships and get what people around here needed,” marketing director Sarah Kondratiuk said.

Kondratiuk said they’ve been able to fill all kinds of requests for their neighbors and customers through restaurant supplies and the distributors they’ve always used.

“This community has been so great to Chip’s and we love supporting our community. This has been a way to give back,” Kondratiuk said.

It’s a notion trickling down through all levels of the food supply chain.

Since 1978, Signature Baking Company has provided bread for Dallas restaurants, sports venues and convention centers.

When a “shelter in place” order forced dining rooms to close, they also took a hit.

“Seeing all of that basically disappear in seven days was really shocking and scary, of course. We saw sales tank, and that’s what shocked us into finding a solution and creating home delivery for people,” president O.J. DeSouza said.

The company made the switch overnight.

It had a website sat up within one day and started deliveries by the end of that first week, employing people who’d been laid off from the hospitality industry.

And in just a couple of weeks, it's adapted to provide not only bread, but also pastries -- even flour and yeast.

Like Chip's, Signature Baking Company is doing what it can to evolve with the community’s needs.

“You keep hearing people say, ‘We’re in this together.’ We absolutely are," Kondratiuk said. "And we’ve got to keep focusing on keeping positive, keeping the wheels in motion and just getting through this tough time."

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