Adversity Prompts Local Restaurants to Innovate

Chefpanzee Blog

BY Indu Sudhakar

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Individuals and businesses alike have experienced huge losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Small restaurants, who normally function on thin margins, were hit especially hard by the health crisis. Despite the adversity, Utah restaurants are evolving, innovating & adapting to these chaotic times.

Focusing on Experiences, Not Just Food

Although social distancing is vital at a time like this, there is no doubt that it can also make one feel extremely isolated. Yoshi’s Japanese Grill recently launched an online sushi-making class, which aims to make social distancing more engaging, while simultaneously feeding customers. Owner Eddee Johansen, who has taught sushi making for years, shared “we want to give people something that is fun and entertaining,” while also keeping the delicious food at Yoshi’s Grill top-of-mind for hungry patrons.

Customers can order their sushi kit online (Select “Sushi Class” Menu) and pick-up curbside at one of Yoshi’s two locations. From there, they can join Johansen’s Zoom class, which he will start running on Fridays & Saturdays.

Yoshi’s will also continue serving their normal menu, available for curbside pick-up or delivery.


Making it Easier for Customers

The pandemic has reshaped the way customers consume food. Convenient, one-and-done meals are becoming less common, as customers now have to assess the risk of leaving home or paying a delivery fee. 

Businesses like Cafe India, for example, are focusing on meals that freeze & reheat well. They will soon be offering bulk quantities of freezable curries on Chefpanzee.  

Sobe Eats, a business that takes pride in meticulously constructing creative, fusion concepts, is actually deconstructing their food instead; now, they offer their tostadas in family packs, completely disassembled and ready for you to make at home at your own leisure. Owner Salvador Soberanis explains “we want to encourage people to stay at home. This is an easier way for them to cook something quick & tasteful and escape the monotony of another regular drive-thru.”


Sobe Eats is offering their Tostada Meal Kit along with their normal menu for curbside pick-up & delivery.


Collaboration Efforts

Sobe Eats has also teamed up with San Diablo Churros and Thirst Drinks to offer Quarantine Survival Kits. These kits are packed with the aforementioned tostadas, churros, drink mixers & a game of reverse charades. Soberanis adds, “we have even been surprising customers with a roll of toilet paper.”

Each of these businesses, alone, have a great product to offer, but collaborating with each other gives customers a full meal— and a fun experience. “Solidarity is important. We came together and decided to join forces. That’s the only way we’re going to survive and get through these difficult times,” Soberanis explained.

Quarantine Survival Kits are available for curbside pick-up & delivery on Fridays & Saturday after 5pm. They must be pre-ordered before Noon the same day.


Giving Back

Despite struggling themselves, several businesses still continue to give back to their community. Cluck Truck and Jamaica’s Kitchen are offering free kids meals, while Raclette Machine is raising money for the employees at the Humane Society of Utah— employees who continue to work during these hard times.

“Our dog, Clark Kent, came from [the Humane Society] in 2017,” Raclette Machine Co-Owner Zara Ahmed explained. “He and our other dog have brought us so much joy as we have been social distancing, and we have had the staff at the Humane Society of Utah on our minds through all of this.”

You can donate to the Humane Society of Utah on Chefpanzee or via Venmo @raclettemachine

Visit our partners’ websites to learn more about what they offer: Yoshi’s Japanese Grill, Cafe India, Sobe Eats, San Diablo Churros, Jamaica’s Kitchen, Cluck Truck, Raclette Machine

Know of other small businesses doing innovative things during these crazy times? We’d love to hear about it. Drop your comment below.


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