Restaurant Highlight: Call Your Mother and Timber Pizza Co.

In times of crisis, we must find new and innovative ways to adapt. When the COVID-19 pandemic caused widespread concern for restaurants worldwide, Call Your Mother, a deli in Washington D.C., and nearby Timber Pizza Co. realized they needed to take major decisive action. Co-owners and partners Andrew Dana and Daniela Moreira were told to fire a significant number of their employees if they wanted to stay afloat as long as they could, they realized they needed to find a creative alternative.

They didn’t find one. They found five.

Cute female manager posing with the staff in a modern kitchen

The owners didn’t think it was right to fire everyone when they knew that their employees were struggling just as much as the business as a result of this crisis. Additionally, the owners stated that “a lot of immigrants work for us and send money home. So if they stop getting paid, it affects not just them here but their families there. […] If it takes a village to build a restaurant, then it takes a village to weather a storm.”

Here are some great ways they’re doing just that:

1. PREVENTATIVE ACTION

One of the reasons the restaurants have survived for this long is because they took action against COVID-19 long before the rest of the country. At the end of January, two months before the U.S. took the virus’s threat seriously, the owners traveled to Thailand and saw how the virus was affecting the people and economy there. When they returned to D.C., they knew that it was just a matter of months before this country shut down too. Starting on March 8th, they closed both restaurants until March 30th to avoid spreading infection during those crucial first few weeks when the virus really hit America hard.

They’d been saving for around five years already, and had the means to keep their employees on for two to three more payrolls. Doing all of this, especially sacrificing their savings to ensure all 144 of their employees have a steady income stream during this, lets their employees know that the owners have their best interests and safety at heart.

art-business-closed-logo-1152831-1-1

2. APPLY FOR LOANS EARLY

Early action benefited them here too. So many businesses across the country all started applying for available loans at once, and lenders can’t give them out to everyone. On top of that, the system is so overloaded right now trying to establish guidelines and gather necessary information all while handling a massive influx of applications. By applying for their loans early in March instead of weeks later after the government mandated shutdowns, Call Your Mother and Timber Pizza Co. were able to get funds while they were still readily available.

3. SPECIAL MENU FOR PICK-UP ORDERS

To encourage safe and responsible ordering, the restaurants also created a new, limited-time menu for online ordering. This menu is pick-up only so that customers can support the business even if they aren’t willing to pay delivery fees. Doing this also makes it easier on cooks who don’t have to prepare an entire menu with less staff.

4. CREATE AN ONLINE EXPERIENCE STORE

To supplement the income from loans and delivery, the co-owners also established an online store where customers could purchase experiences that last a lifetime, not just for one meal. For example, customers can now buy virtual cooking classes or name an item on the menu after themselves. They can also purchase swag, buy gift cards for when dine-in services reopen or donate directly to the fundraiser. All of this is on the front page of the website so that visitors see the information immediately.

Customers also have a couple of different ways to order: They can use the website or their phone with the integrated Toast Takeout app. The more ways people can order, the bigger your customer base will grow.

female-hand-holding-phone-with-app-delivery-food-5TUXMPC-1

5. EXPAND DELIVERY SERVICE

In a move to support those fighting so hard to keep others safe, the restaurants have also begun delivering bagels to hospitals. Though they had to adapt to produce large quantities with so few staff members, it’s been more than worth it; the owners stated: “We initially started out with two hospitals, but seeing how happy it’s made their staff, we’re looking to deliver to more.”

Mid-section of waitress packing croissants in paper bag at cafx92xA9-1

With these inventive methods, Call Your Mother and Timber Pizza Co. have combated a lot of the negative effects of COVID-19 that have brought down other restaurants. Such ingenuity and compassion can carry us all through the difficult coming months.

Editor's Picks