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28 The Shambles, York

How to Quickly Move Your Cafe or Restaurant to Deliveries during COVID-19

Posted on March 19, 2020

Hopefully some help for small business owners in desperate times.

The easiest way to start doing deliveries is to ignore this blog and use Deliveroo, Uber Eats, etc.

But if you're wondering, like me, how you keep all your loyal team, safely in work - and serve the isolating community - hopefully this guide will help. This does rely on your staff staying healthy and being willing to get involved in the delivering - which ours all were.

Also, it would save a lot of to-ing and fro-ing with customers if you have an online shopping cart ordering system - but, as a very short term solution, this is what we've done. And it's a bit more personal.

1) Put an easy-to-alter menu online with printable pdf. We're totally winging this, so being able to make amendments as we learn is crucial. Menu items need to change as supplies of certain fresh ingredients fluctuate. And delivery times/ costs are likely to change as you realise how different this new business is to the one you had.

Our web guy, Mikee, did it within hours - but then again, he is a hero. If you don't have a web guy (or girl), maybe someone from your network will volunteer to hook you up with a simple site in your hour of need?

2) Robust Packaging - This will protect the food in transit obviously. People already doing takeaway will know but perhaps not everyone. The supply chain seems to be fine and there's plenty of providers. We use Packaging Environmental and Ambican who both use eco friendly materials.

3) Download Business WhatsApp as well as using a landline number. Business WhatsApp has been really popular for taking orders. But i'd advise using a spare/ new sim card and tablet/ phone as you can't run a business and personal WhatsApp independently on the same phone. It will transfer all your personal chats to the new business account - aw'ks. You can easily reverse it if you do it by mistake, like me.

It's quite nice to use WhatsApp for the personal touch too - including the odd emoji - instead of the online shopping cart method. The orders have often been accompanied by a few rallying words of support. The draw back being that's it's more labour intensive that receiving completed orders through an online shopping cart.

4) Use iZettle payment links for payment. It's simple to activate the Payment Links in an iZettle account. You'll have the customer's number from the phone or WhatsApp order - so you just 'Send Link' via SMS and you get an email (or refresh the paid / unpaid screen) to tell you that they've paid.

It means you never have to ask for card details or come within 3m of each other - which is crucial because the customer could very well be ordering for home delivery because they have the virus symptoms. And from a business perspective, you know you've got the money before you set off with the food as it's so quick to process.

(Also, this is not an ad, just props where it's due: iZettle are so quick to put your fees down when the see you taking transactions in a certain way - they rang me up the first day i did this to put them way lower than the competitors)

5) Don't pass the food directly to the customer. There's no point doing this if you're going to put people in danger. We are placing the bagged up delivery around the customer's doorway. We let them know exactly when it will arrive and give a knock, so we know they're ready for it.

6) Talk to your suppliers to find out if they foresee any shortages of particular items and plan your menu accordingly.

7) Monitor the health of your staff and ask that they, in turn, watch for symptoms in anyone they're living with. As a cafe/ restaurant you should have a load of fairly accurate temperature probes. Mark one with a pen or tape to keep separate form the ones you're putting in food and you can take the armpit temperature of your staff. A healthy temperature is 36.5c - 37.5c. At the top end of that scale (unless they've just been biking deliveries), they need to isolate immediately. Obviously sterile it after each use.

8) You'll need insulated backpacks for bike deliveries but these can be found online - or maybe someone has one spare? Normal cool boxes also keep things warm and are fine for car deliveries. Just make sure the food can't move around inside the box during the journey.

9) Change your menu to food that will travel well. Hot food that is already wet (i don't want to say moist....whoops) is best. The food container is going to have steam inside during transportation and that is going to effect the texture of your food. If it's crispy when you cook it, it won't be crispy when the customer eats it.

10) You'll need a car parking space near your premises. Parking is a nightmare near us so I rang the council and explained that we were moving our business to delivery temporarily and they emailed me a parking waiver. Cheers Penny!

11) Now spread word of your WhatsApp number and online menu page to your database and socials. You'll be amazed how people will support you.

I'm sure there's lots more to consider for you - but the principle is to use technology and talk to your staff and networks to ask for help and answers. On that note, If you have any questions, I'm more than happy to help. Just email [email protected]

Good luck and keep everyone safe,


p.s It goes without saying that if we're advised that it's not safe to continue with deliveries, we will stop. So should you.

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28 The Shambles, York, YO1 7LX

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28 The Shambles, York, YO1 7LX


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