'Stay at home' increases area food delivery
TRI-COUNTY AREA--With many businesses in the Finger Lakes suffering the economic problems of the coronavirus pandemic, local restaurants and eateries are counting on an increase in deliveries to help get them through tough times. For residents that gives an opportunity to still enjoy their favorite comfort foods to help get through the self-isolation and social distancing not expected to end for weeks.
"We have seen a lot of support from the community to access and support their favorite local restaurants like the Penn Yan Diner for instance," said Spencer Gibson, operations manager for Keuka To Go, a food delivery service based in Penn Yan.
Launched on Jan. 27 of this year, Keuka To Go is owned by John and Teresa Vivier who also own Keuka Taxi. As it stands, the local delivery service contracts with roughly 15 restaurants in the Penn Yan area to deliver food to customers.
"We partner with local restaurants to put their menu online and let customers order food for delivery or pickup. We partner with independent delivery pros to effect those deliveries. So we are providing a platform upon which customers can view local menus to place orders, to see specials and get hooked up with delivery drivers," Gibson said.
Gibson said it was fortunate Keuka To Go opened when it did because services like Yelp!, Grubhub and Uber Eats are limited and some non-existent in Yates County.
"During the current time it is important to allow customers to get the comfort food they need to get through this while also helping local businesses make enough money to stay open," Gibson said.
Local restaurants offered include the Keuka Restaurant, the Keuka Candy Emporium, the Penn Yan Diner, the Antique Inn, Sabrina's Bake Shop and more.
"We support local jobs and local work. We are keeping the revenue and the profits right here in the community and we are conferencing with partners daily," Gibson said. "We are on a small enough scale to be able to do that, to figure out what our specials are and promote those and give individual attention to our partners during a crisis like this."
Gibson added he was particularly proud of the work Keuka To Go did working the Penn Yan Diner.
"Within 24 hours of learning they would be required to close the dining room, our team was able to get The Diner's menu online, quality checked, and ready for customers," Gibson said.
Along with contracting with locally-owned restaurants, Keuka To Go also allows for deliveries of local fast food.
"We don't contract with fast food restaurants, but we will send our drivers through to place and pick up your order... we have seen more local orders than fast food orders recently," Gibson remarked.
Gibson added that due to the current pandemic, drivers are doing remote drop-offs only, which allows people to get their food, pay and tip using a credit card without being in contact with a delivery driver.
To use Keuka To Go visit www.keukatogo.com or call 315-924-7575.
Dundee restaurant Winner's Circle Deli has expanded its offerings to include grocery items with their regular menu which is available curbside on Main Street. Their extra products include things like ground meat, chicken breast, paper towels, toilet paper and disinfectant cleaner.
In Schuyler County, Bill Tague, owner of Jerlando's Ristorante and Pizza Company in Watkins Glen, said he prefers to use his own delivery infrastructure instead of contracting out.
"We are a multifaceted business fortunate to have a pick-up and go option already in place before the pandemic hit so this is nothing new for us," Tague said.
While the pandemic has had an impact overall, Tague said pick-up has been pretty vibrant in the meantime.
"Right now we appreciate every single phone call we get... our mortgage doesn't stop, our bills don't stop, our worker's comp premiums don't stop. I have employees with families who can't live off unemployment, some have three or four kids. I would say that it is fundamentally important right now for people to order out," Tague said.
Luckily for him and fellow restaurants, Tague said the local community seems to understand this.
"The community has been here for us and we are here for them. Trying to keep our lights on. It is definitely a tricky situation to navigate," Tague said.
Also currently offering remote pickup, Tague said that his delivery infrastructure includes an online order platform along with two or three drivers working per shift.
"One customer taped the money to his mailbox with money for a tip. We're honoring every request the best that we can and trying to be cautious for our staff as well as our customers. We want to eliminate as much exposure as possible with social distancing from each other the best we can. No one wants this thing to continue, at all," Tague said.
Watkins Glen now also has a curbside grocery pickup service at Seneca Harbor Station and Captain Bill's. They offer staples like meat, bread, canned goods, pasta and paper products such as toilet paper. Orders can be placed online and pick up will allow customers to avoid shopping centers.