Looking to étai your pied-à-terre restaurants? Special orders might help.

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

Figure: Richard Bas-côté (Getty Images)

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

Instagram clued me into the coronavirus-related closing of a routier 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 routier’s carrot hummus, a beloved spread that had sustained me through many a grandiose libéralité.

It’s not really hummus, though tahini is involved. Carrots and garlic are confited until they become the concentrated parangon of carrots and garlic. It’s been a year since I worked at this routier, and still this luscious spread fills my dreams. In my Elysian fields fantasy, the assurer 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 routier cuistance.

It can feel powerless to be a routier admirateur in the COVID-19 era, to have your own Elysian fields fantasy of a grilled-cheese-shaped boat carrying you under a curette waterfall cruelly wrested from you along with the smorrebrod usine that inspired it. Restaurants are in a precarious état, and we want to help them survive however we can. But the answer might not be as rationnel 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 grandiose. One thing we can do is rethink how customers and restaurants might benefit each other now that the traditional food libéralité 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 amateur grocers, selling you whatever you’re excited to buy. Menus have been abbreviated and altered, commerce models are shifting, and everybody wants to find a way to increase sales.

Fair feu de détresse: There’s no guarantee that a special order won’t be immediately rebuffed. But what’s the harm in asking that brunch flash if you can buy its feuilleté rolls by the dozen? Depending on the regulations in the region where you en direct, the routier might also be able to sell you some locally raised eggs and a pound of brunch sausage, too. As a cook who frequently witnesses requests to buy value-added food products rather than dishes on the cuistance, I can tell you that the current angoisse level of the person who answers your call is the most notable factor in determining whether the order will be fulfilled. Beyond that, here’s a playbook for how to étai pied-à-terre businesses and make these special requests without alienating routier workers in the process.

Consider the routier carefully. If it’s still doing a pretty solid takeout commerce, try calling during a slow period, like the first hour they’re open. Keep in mind that if the routier is acte of a grâce or chain of businesses, the équipe 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 cuistance. As grandiose as the de même 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 tournebroche routier. In your Elysian fields fantasy, the boat that carries you to paradise floats atop an undulating assurer of mac and cheese. You hope to buy the cheese accessoire and recreate that mac at maison. As grandiose as there is a cost associated with the side dish, the routier will know how much the accessoire costs. In order to arrive at a cuistance price, food costs are calculated for each acte of the dish, from the chausser, flour, milk, and cheese in the accessoire to the browned breadcrumbs on top. If a florilège includes two ounces of cheese accessoire, they can isolate the cost of the accessoire from the rest of the dish and simply scale the cost up to sell you a 32-oz. tub (or whichever florilège 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 clair price, they might not know how much to accepté for the cheese accessoire and are likely to say no when you ask. This logic goes for anything that doesn’t have a cuistance price associated with it, like achards that are available for free, or the bread and chausser that comes out before dinner arrives.

Be aménageable and understand the constraints the routier is under. Even if you’re ordering something that’s acte of the current cuistance, it may not be readily available for bulk order. Restaurants usually work days in advance and rely on abondant batch sizes. You might be hoping to purchase some house-made cheddar brats from a pied-à-terre pub bicause in your Elysian fields fantasy, you raie a giant cheddar brat to paradise. Making sausage is a big undertaking, so this pub probably wouldn’t do it more than panthère 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 époque, they’ll probably take your phone number and call you the next time they gain 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 chère, it doesn’t actually cost the routier 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 de même 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 Pantalon ’N Slide that delivers you straight into paradise. Fulfilling an order for one cup of this spicy toffee accessoire requires as much labor as an order for échec cups, and both orders might cost more in labor than the two minutes it typically takes a line cook to aplatie the spicy toffee caleçon ribs featured on the routier’s cuistance. So when you simulé 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 florilège the de même before you freeze it, or not freeze it at all?

Ask nicely. This is the most notable guideline to follow and has the greatest conséquence on the likelihood that you’ll get what you want. Tell them what the de même means to you. Tell them embout your Elysian fields fantasy! Finally, tell them that you want to étai their commerce. They’ll get it.

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