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Restaurants Are Turning Into Grocery Stores to Help Stay Afloat

Both small and large businesses are taking a hit—and they're looking for alternative ways to make money.
frisch big boy

Many restaurants are still offering delivery and carry-out orders during the coronavirus pandemic, however, for some, those orders alone aren't nearly enough to cover the costs. Instead, they've had to find an alternative way to stay in business.

Both local and chain restaurants alike have started selling groceries to make up for the shortfall in revenue. For example, Panera Bread recently announced that it would sell bread, bagels, yogurt, cream cheese, and fresh produce to consumers. Similar to how a customer would place a to-go order for a meal, the grocery order can be made online, through the app, or on Grubhub.

Before Panera, smaller chains such as Frisch's Big Boy, a quick-service restaurant in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, started selling both perishable and non-perishable food items including their signature tuna salad, milk, broccoli, soft-shell tortillas, and even the scarcest household item of them all: toilet paper.  After the word got out that 100 of these restaurants turned into grocery stores in late March, CEO of Frisch's Jason Vaughn said the number of orders skyrocketed within just a few hours—helping both the business and customers in need.

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Juice Press, a small healthy restaurant chain that serves New York City (as well as the tri-state area) and Boston, has also modified its business model in light of the novel coronavirus. Currently, they're offering grocery delivery in NYC, the Hamptons, Westchester, Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, and various neighborhoods in Boston.

Numerous local restaurants in NYC have also started selling groceries to help support their staff and keep local communities fed. The same can be said for restaurants in other large metropolitan areas across the country. For example, French cafe Épicerie in Austin, Texas is selling Epic Survival Kits which are stacked with goods like fresh pasta, house-made yogurt, and fresh produce to get you through the week.

Even during these dark times, many members of the restaurant industry are employing innovative tactics to survive this pandemic.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more