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Key Idea: Truly Touchless Takeout

Located in Estes Park, CO, Antonio’s Real New York Pizza has satisfied locals and seasonal visitors for two decades. Pre-COVID, more than half the restaurant’s revenue came from its 200 seat dining room.

But when the first COVID cases appeared in the US, owner Anthony DeSousa decided to voluntarily close his dining room and begin operating on a 100% touchless takeout basis. His wife, Tracey, a critical care nurse, had explained that respiratory viruses like COVID-19 spread fastest wherever large groups “share air.” Since they couldn’t isolate their kitchen crew from their often-crowded dining room, the DeSousas chose instead to seal off the entire restaurant to non-employees.

Here’s how Anthony’s “touchless takeout” system minimizes staff/guest/staff exposure.

  1. All customers order and prepay via the restaurant’s website, which was already equipped to process customer transactions. At the end of the purchase, guests provide their cell number, which will direct their order pickup.
  2. As soon as Anthony’s POS accepts their order and payment, customers get a confirmation email with their receipt and estimated pickup time. The email also reminds them to watch their smartphone for pickup instructions via text message.
  3. Outside the restaurant, guests wait comfortably in their vehicles. When their order is ready, they are texted to approach one of three curbside tables labeled A, B, and C.
  4. Just before texting, employees double check each completed order for accuracy and completeness.
  5. A masked employee then exits the restaurant with their order. After placing it on the table, the staffer politely confirms the guest’s name and order contents, thanks them for their business, and returns inside. The guest then carries the order to their car.

KEY IDEA – Beyond minimizing face to face contact, portions of Anthony’s approach can also help restaurants streamline their takeout operations long after COVID-19 fades.

KEY IDEA – Requiring online prepayment for takeout makes pickups faster and easier for customers. The moment their food is ready, prepaid customers can grab and go without further delay. Eliminating cashiering from the end of the process also frees up employees, especially during peak demand.
KEY IDEA – Alerting takeout guests via text (vs. voice) when their order is ready reduces customers having to crowd forward to hear their names. Guests no longer have to concentrate on hearing EVERY SINGLE NAME CALLED to not miss theirs. It also reduces order mixups from misheard names.

KEY IDEA – Double checking each order before summoning customers and reconfirming their name and order contents before releasing their order further prevents customer disappointment. Insisting on both steps also greatly reinforces an employee culture of excellence.

Anthony DeSousa, Owner
Anthony’s Real New York Pizza
Estes Park, CO