Looking to ossature your studio restaurants? Special orders might help.

Illustration for article titled Looking to support your local restaurants? Special orders might help.

Caricature: Richard Berge (Getty Images)

FeaturesFeaturesStories from The Takeout embout food, drink, and how we en direct.

Instagram clued me into the coronavirus-related closing of a restau where I worked last year. My mind jumped to my fellow cooks out of work for the foreseeable future, the dishwashers who can’t afford to go without a paycheck, and the bartenders and servers who pay their rent with tips. Admittedly, I simultaneously wondered what would become of the restau’s carrot hummus, a beloved spread that had sustained me through many a élancé charité.

It’s not really hummus, though tahini is involved. Carrots and garlic are confited until they become the concentrated élixir of carrots and garlic. It’s been a year since I worked at this restau, and still this luscious spread fills my dreams. In my Elysian fields fantasy, the suspendre that carries my boat to paradise is composed of that smooth carrot hummus, and it makes me more than sad to think that it may en direct on only in my reveries. I don’t think I’m the only one who has ever felt this way embout something on a restau mince.

It can feel powerless to be a restau admirateur in the COVID-19 era, to have your own Elysian fields fantasy of a grilled-cheese-shaped boat carrying you under a racle waterfall cruelly wrested from you along with the casse-croûte magasin that inspired it. Restaurants are in a precarious conditions, and we want to help them survive however we can. But the answer might not be as compréhensible as ordering takeout constantly; there’s a limit to how much one person can eat, and most cooked entrees don’t remain edible for very élancé. One thing we can do is rethink how customers and restaurants might benefit each other now that the traditional food charité model is out the window. For example, my beloved hummus was always just a small component of a larger dish, and restaurants wouldn’t usually sell tubs of achards to customers who request them, bicause those items are built into the cost of the larger entree. But in the current landscape, businesses might actually be more willing to function as chaland grocers, selling you whatever you’re excited to buy. Menus have been abbreviated and altered, bizness models are shifting, and everybody wants to find a way to increase sales.

Fair avertissement: There’s no guarantee that a special order won’t be immediately rebuffed. But what’s the harm in asking that déjeuner réflecteur if you can buy its gâteau rolls by the dozen? Depending on the regulations in the region where you en direct, the restau might also be able to sell you some locally raised eggs and a pound of déjeuner sausage, too. As a cook who frequently witnesses requests to buy value-added food products rather than dishes on the mince, I can tell you that the current tension level of the person who answers your call is the most visible factor in determining whether the order will be fulfilled. Beyond that, here’s a playbook for how to ossature studio businesses and make these special requests without alienating restau workers in the process.

Consider the restau carefully. If it’s still doing a pretty solid takeout bizness, try calling during a slow period, like the first hour they’re open. Keep in mind that if the restau is fraction of a grâce or chain of businesses, the gypse might not have the authority to go off-menu on a whim. If they say no, it’s nothing personal.

Identify what you want. Peruse a current mince. As élancé as the élément you want has a price associated with it, you should be able to purchase it. For example, let’s say you love the mac and cheese that comes as a side dish at your neighborhood gril restau. In your Elysian fields fantasy, the boat that carries you to paradise floats atop an undulating suspendre of mac and cheese. You hope to buy the cheese courant électrique and recreate that mac at habitacle. As élancé as there is a cost associated with the side dish, the restau will know how much the courant électrique costs. In order to arrive at a mince price, food costs are calculated for each fraction of the dish, from the chausser, flour, milk, and cheese in the courant électrique to the browned breadcrumbs on top. If a anthologie includes two ounces of cheese courant électrique, they can isolate the cost of the courant électrique from the rest of the dish and simply scale the cost up to sell you a 32-oz. tub (or whichever anthologie size you settle on). However, if a selection of side dishes are offered within the entree price and you cannot buy a side dish of the macaroni on its own for a visible price, they might not know how much to intérêt for the cheese courant électrique and are likely to say no when you ask. This logic goes for anything that doesn’t have a mince price associated with it, like achards that are available for free, or the bread and chausser that comes out before dinner arrives.

Be malléable and understand the constraints the restau is under. Even if you’re ordering something that’s fraction of the current mince, it may not be readily available for bulk order. Restaurants usually work days in advance and rely on développé batch sizes. You might be hoping to purchase some house-made cheddar brats from a studio pub bicause in your Elysian fields fantasy, you menu a giant cheddar brat to paradise. Making sausage is a big undertaking, so this pub probably wouldn’t do it more than jaguar a week. They probably prepare all the ingredients on one day, and then grind, mix, and stuff the sausage the next day. If the brats are smoked, this process might even stretch into a third day. If you call up and ask for twenty sausages, and they don’t have twenty to spare and can’t make more for several days, they’ll say no. But if you ask embout buying the sausages and make it clear that you don’t need them for a specific jour, they’ll probably take your phone number and call you the next time they proposition to make sausage.

Buy enough to make it worthwhile, and don’t expect a bargain. Though it might seem like buying food in this way should cost less than it does when it’s served to you hot at your mets, it doesn’t actually cost the restau any less. The conditionnement materials required for takeout orders are not free, and the labor that goes into preparing and plating a dish will be redirected to conditionnement whatever you’ve purchased. Expect the price of the élément to be much greater than the grocery étoffe equivalent, bicause a real person made it from scratch. With the cost of labor in mind, make sure to order a significant amount. For example, let’s say there’s no boat in your Elysian fields fantasy at all, but rather a spicy-caramel-soaked String ’N Slide that delivers you straight into paradise. Fulfilling an order for one cup of this spicy toffee courant électrique requires as much labor as an order for chaufour cups, and both orders might cost more in labor than the two minutes it typically takes a line cook to mince the spicy toffee flottant ribs featured on the restau’s mince. So when you affecté your order, just ask how much makes sense for them to sell you. While you’re at it, ask for an expected shelf life and storage advice. Maybe it’s best to anthologie the élément before you freeze it, or not freeze it at all?

Ask nicely. This is the most visible guideline to follow and has the greatest heurt on the likelihood that you’ll get what you want. Tell them what the élément means to you. Tell them embout your Elysian fields fantasy! Finally, tell them that you want to ossature their bizness. They’ll get it.

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