Waves Seafood and Grill is a traditional family style restaurant with a capacity of 94, located in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. On Sunday March 15, 2020, the Premier of Nova Scotia announced new social distancing measures for many businesses, including ours, due to COVID19. Immediately our business model was thrown upside down with no notice. The food was ordered for the week and we were not going to have a chance to be open, as a sit down restaurant for the week or going forward. The scramble for a plan was on. Take out sales were still an option but the sales decline was massive.
We knew that we needed to create a plan and it needed to involve social media. We have a very active and vibrant facebook page and following. We now needed to speak to our customers daily, in a way that we had never done before. A daily message from our restaurant was needed in order to begin to adjust to the new reality.
We were very aware of what other competitors were doing. So many had closed all together. Closing means you are out site and therefore out of mind. We couldn’t close. Back to facebook for more engagement and messages. The first week went by and there was take out only along with some bad weather. People were not leaving their houses. More scrambling and a pivot in the plan.
After speaking with our main food supplier, we decided to offer high needs grocery items for sale through the restaurant for contactless pick up at curbside. Items like yeast, 20kg of flour, gloves and baking powder. It was a long shot but we thought we would engage with our customers in a new way. Wow! What a response. We have a delivery twice per week and we have maximzed the potential of grocery delivery. Facebook has allowed us to get the message out, respond to customers and reach a whole new audience for the restaurant. We may be ok. We were thinking very short term. Last week taught us that we need to think about a longer term (2-3 months).
In doing all of this communication with our customers we want to make sure that we are being tasteful, respectful and sensitive to what people are going through. What else can we do? How do we create a call to action and make sure we are following the rules of only essential trips outside the house? It is so hard to provide new upbeat messages each day and also create a non tacky sales opportunity. We are open to any feedback from the public, customers, politicians and other members of the restaurant community. We need everyone’s help and input but most of all support. We need to look confident that we “got this” but it is super scary. Most of all thank you facebook for being an avenue that we can use in these trying times.