Saving Rehoboth One Meal at a Time
I need toilet paper. Badly. Maybe not as much as some other grocery store staples (Cherry Garcia ice cream, half-price chocolate Easter Bunnies, huge bags of Tootsie Rolls), but badly enough. The problem, as you all most certainly know, is that no one has toilet paper. No one. Not Amazon, not Walmart, especially not grocery stores. I even checked out the Staples website, since what could be more of a staple than tp? Nada. So, what to do?
Well, normally, I would laugh at anyone using “restaurant” and “toilet paper” in the same sentence, but hear me out. You can get pure gold on a roll, yes, at Purple Parrot Grill on Rehoboth Avenue. It’s only one roll, mind you, and you have to buy a meal with it. But it’s toilet paper! Thank you, Purple Parrot!!!
This hilarious advertising ploy is just one way local restaurants are battling the coronavirus curse. Humor certainly helps in these hard times. So does a willingness to adapt to the new environment.
Phrases becoming standard during the pandemic are “no-contact online ordering” and “curbside delivery.” Embracing online technology and safe delivery is an opportunity to keep both the food staff and the patrons safer.
While all open restaurants have switched their focus to carry-out, many feature curbside delivery, where customers stay in their cars, pop the trunk or open a back door, while orders are brought to them—making the restaurant “experience” safer for all.
Local delivery is also an option. Route 1 stalwarts 1776 Steakhouse and Just In Thyme provide delivery, as do in-town popular spots like Purple Parrot.
Many restaurants are maintaining a semblance of normalcy by offering full menu selections; others have limited menus focusing on crowd favorites or announcing daily and weekly specials like in pre-pandemic days.
And importantly, carry-out beverage goodies like wine and beer are offered by some restaurants. Warning: you must wait until you get home to drink them!
Our restaurateurs are finding ways to cope with the new world. Lori Kline, owner of Lori’s Café in the CAMP Rehoboth courtyard, says that the hardest part of social distancing is that she can’t hug her customers.
On the other hand, she has learned things about her computer that she couldn’t have dreamed of four months ago. In addition to Lori’s Café’s variety of meals and by-the-pound servings, the café has dealt with the slowdown in business (40 percent in April alone) by offering fresh produce and chicken ready for the oven or grill—to help save customers an extra trip outside the home.
Other restaurants making carry-out available are Palate and Café Azafran.
And, restaurants are also giving back to the community. Eleven of SoDel Concepts’ 12 restaurants (including Lupo Italian Kitchen, Thompson Island Brewery Company, Crust & Craft Wood Fired Pizza, and Bluecoast Seafood Grill in Rehoboth) are offering carry-out plus online ordering/payment and curbside delivery, and there’s more.
During the pandemic, SoDel Concepts continues to prepare meals for more than 250 homebound seniors in the Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth program. Scott Kammerer, president of SoDel Concepts, says “People are staying at home during the state of emergency and, as a result, seniors in our communities are vulnerable. Neighbors may not check on them as much as in the past, and family can’t stop by to connect. The Meals-on-Wheels program ensures that they’re getting balanced meals.” SoDel cooks and assembles two meals to deliver to each client, making it more than 500 nutritious meals prepared each day.
Another SoDel restaurant, Thompson Island Brewing Company, provides another hard-to-find item—of all things, hand sanitizer! Thompson Creek uses high-proof isopropyl alcohol for sanitizing surfaces, and that’s a primary ingredient in hand sanitizer. Certainly, a creative way to show commitment to customers.
So, will Lori’s and other local restaurants survive this? Kline offers a resounding “Yes!” for herself. “I have no complaints. I’m just grateful for all we have.”
What’s the moral of this story? Simple. If you want the tradition of fine food and fun at lower Delaware restaurants to survive during and after this coronavirus calamity, order a meal from your favorite open-for-carry-out eatery. Be it a crab cake or a spaghetti dinner, you’ll enjoy both the meal and knowing you’ve done your part to embrace normalcy in these abnormal times. Who knows, you may even walk away with a roll of toilet paper!
Michael Gilles is a playwright, actor, and director from Milton, and a regular contributor to Letters from CAMP Rehoboth.