Named the #1 Best Restaurant in Atlanta by Atlanta Magazine in 2019, Southern spot Miller Union was flying high going into 2020. James Beard Award-winning executive chef Steven Satterfield and co-owner, general manager, and sommelier Neal McCarthy became well known for a brand of warm hospitality that catered to both everyday meals and major celebrations.
So when COVID-19 hit and they closed their dining room on March 15th, Satterfield and McCarthy scrambled to adapt and survive. They were grateful to be tapped by the Atlanta Hawks Foundation and State Farm to cook meals for frontline workers at Emory Healthcare’s hospital system for seven weeks, allowing them to keep their staff employed. But they knew that was only a short term fix while they planned for what was next.
“We targeted June 1st for our relaunch and spent the whole month of May in planning mode,” says Satterfield. “We were figuring out how to build more outdoor areas and create socially distanced spaces inside.” Cautiously optimistic that diners would return, the team was thrilled to see a good response when they reopened. “We were doing pretty well for June,” says Satterfield. “We did some takeout, but we were really focused on driving dine-in business.”
But the dine-in boom was short-lived when many southern states saw a spike in COVID-19 cases. “We started looking at more ways that we could push takeout because we felt like this is where we had to go in order to stay relevant,” says Satterfield.
How Miller Union Decided Resy At Home Pickup Was the Best Fit
McCarthy conducted research on what other restaurants in the area were doing with takeout and how they could make the biggest impact while also providing a reliable new revenue stream for their business. As a fine dining restaurant, McCarthy felt Miller Union had a different set of challenges from more casual spots. “Our regular menu really didn’t adapt well to being put in a to-go box,” says McCarthy, “and we didn’t really trust delivery services with strangers taking our food to people.”
After learning about Resy At Home from one of Resy’s email newsletters, Satterfield knew the pickup option would be the perfect fit for Miller Union. “We felt like the messaging from Resy had been really supportive and positive, and since we were already using the platform for booking reservations, we saw the opportunity to use the same idea for booking takeout and curating it.”
McCarthy adds, “We thought it was nice that guests have the opportunity to book takeout through Resy and not have to pick up the phone. If you’re busy working from home or taking care of kids, you can go ahead and plan dinner in advance and not have to worry about it. The more opportunities we have to reach people and different ways that they can engage with us, the better off we’re going to be.”
Satterfield and McCarthy shared with us the playbook they followed to ensure their Resy At Home pickup program was a success.
Communicate with Your Guests Both Before and During Your Resy At Home Pickup Program
Before starting the family meal pickup program in mid-July, the team sent a survey to their contact list to gather information about how their diners were feeling. “We got some really great data from our contacts including what neighborhood they were in, their interest in delivery and takeout, and their comfort level with dining inside and outside,” says Satterfield. “It gave us a lot of clarity that many people aren’t really comfortable with dining in right now and would appreciate the choice of takeout.”
To let people know about their rotating weekly offerings, the team sends out the menu on Mondays via email and posts on their social media channels throughout the week. Satterfield takes videos in the kitchen of meal prep and sends them to Miller Union’s PR team for distribution. (See more tips for how to update your PR strategy for COVID-19 here.)
Choose Pickup Options to Maximize Both Guest Satisfaction and Restaurant Revenue
When deciding what to sell via Resy At Home pickup, the duo knew they wanted to provide craveable, large format meals for families that they could offer at a discounted price while also ensuring a strong profit from sales of the packages. “Our family meal Resy At Home takeout program is really to supplement our income,” says McCarthy. “At the end of the day, we’re really just trying to keep our restaurant going and keep our employees at their jobs.”
Miller Union signed up to receive sustainably farmed produce paid for by the Lee Initiative’s Restaurant Reboot Relief program, and is using those supplies in its family meal boxes to boost profit margins. “Tonight’s dish is really fun,” says Satterfield. “We’re doing a southern platter of sausage biscuits and a bunch of different southern sides like sliced tomatoes, braised beans, and pickled okra.”
Provide Hospitality in the Takeout Process
Transferring Miller Union’s renowned hospitality from the dining room to the takeout experience was important for Satterfield and McCarthy. Along with the order statistics provided on their Resy OS Dashboard, they kept a journal of all of the people that have been ordering, including any wine add-ons and the make and model of guest cars for curbside pickup.
“We’ve seen a lot of repeat business so we’ve been keeping track of their information,” says McCarthy. “That way, when they call us, we can say, ‘Hey, we know you ordered last week and we still have your information’.” This extra touch shows their guests that they care and are listening and anticipating their needs.
Follow These Pro-Tips for Resy At Home Success
If your restaurant is considering using Resy At Home pickup, the Miller Union team left us the following tips and trick to ensure your success:
- When choosing what you’re going to offer for pickup, make something craveable. It should be true to your restaurant and your brand, but you want it to be something comforting that people will get excited about. Be descriptive in your communications so people really understand everything they’re getting.
- Pickup sales have been strongest on the weekends and holidays, so if you only have the bandwidth for a small program, make sure to have offerings available for those dates.
- Promote your offering through multiple avenues so people understand how to use Resy At Home pickup and how easy it is. Satterfield closes, “We’re just trying to do everything we can to make a little noise and remind people that we’re here, we’re cooking, and we’re ready to serve them inside, outside, or with a to-go bag.”