6 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Restaurant Inventory During the Pandemic

an array of fresh restaurant ingredients

6 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Restaurant Inventory During the Pandemic

In uncertain times, it’s good to have a friend in the business. That’s why our team of industry veterans are putting together this series of tips, resources, and advice from around the restaurant world. It’s Cheetah’s mission to help you make it through the current COVID-19 crisis and beyond. Follow along as we try to keep up with ongoing developments

As the industry is fumbling to get by during the coronavirus outbreak, restaurant owners are struggling to liquidate surplus inventory in an effort to cut losses. Here are 6 creative ways to turn sitting inventory into sellable produce and sustain cash flow during these difficult times.

Sell Stock Items Directly to Customers

With grocery stores emptying at a worrying pace, consumers are looking for alternative ways to stock their kitchen. To meet the growing demand for pantry staples, package pasta, canned tomatoes, flats of eggs, tinned fish or cheese to sell at pick-up or delivery. Offering specialty items at reduced prices will give customers an incentive to make their dinner a little more interesting. Sourdough bread, homemade stock and sauces and smoked meats at 10 or 20 percent discount are likely to sell like hotcakes.

Offer Cook-at-Home Dinner Kits

Many people are looking for creative ways to pass the time while in lockdown. Family-sized packages of ingredients delivered to their home along with changing recipes is a great way to help people keep busy and enjoy a comforting meal.

Get Creative with Menu Items

The coronavirus pandemic is challenging the most creative minds of the industry to come up with unique dishes that would fit a delivery business model and a tight budget. Encourage your chefs to review the menu and come up with new recipes that make the most of what the restaurant still has in stock.

Maximize Alternative Sales Channels

With takeout, delivery or pickup at the restaurant the only available model, restaurants need to adjust their tactics. If you’re not able to set up your own home delivery system, offering drive-thru or using a third-party delivery service like Caviar or DoorDash can be a great alternative. Watch commission rates carefully for any delivery service you choose, as many are starting to reduce or waive fees in these trying times. To get customers to reorder, offer family-sized delivery packages of heat-and-serve dishes or a weekly meal plan for families.

Would You Like That Cocktail to Go?

As of this past week, you can add wine, craft beer, pre-mixed drinks and specialty cocktails to your takeout menu, thanks to the California and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Control decisions to temporarily relax regulation. As people are desperately looking for ways to unwind, it’s time to put that aged wine you’ve been keeping on the menu.

Give Fresh Produce a Longer Shelf Life

Instead of letting it go to waste, consider ways to turn your fresh leftover inventory into sellable stock. Overripe fruit can be made into jam, juice or chutney, or frozen for use in smoothies or purees, while vegetables can be used to make stock or sauce. Herbs can be dried or processed in oil and butter and meat and fish can be minced and frozen.

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