RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond restaurants are changing the way they operate in order to stay in business. CBS 6 created We're Open to shine a light on these small businesses in an effort to support business owners and their employees.
In an interview with Eat It, Virginia! co-host Scott Wise, Burger Bach manager Tyler Dahnke talked about his team adapted to the new COVID-19 safety rules and regulations. A lightly-edited version of their conversation is transcribed below:
My name is Tyler Dahnke. I, along with our operations director, oversee day-to-day operations at our stores. That would be in Short Pump, Midlothian, in Durham, North Carolina and Charlottesville, Virginia.
You're managing this over two different states. I know, it's all been difficult. Has that been particularly difficult?
It has been difficult just because we have had to monitor the local regulations from both states. But they've been happening along pretty similar timelines. So it hasn't been too large a challenge for us.
It seems like a lot of the restaurants in town, when they decided to switch to take out only, a lot of them added a burger on their menu real quick, because burgers seem to be almost the perfect food for this kind of situation.
Obviously burgers are your forte.
So how much of an actual switch, kitchen wise, have you guys had to make?
We've had to kind of tweak some systems and operations in terms of how we are getting the to-go food out because we're obviously doing significantly more of our sales volume through to-go and carryout and curbside pickup than we were previously.
So figuring out how much of our paper products do we need, how many to-go boxes do we need, and just kind of putting all those pieces in place. There of course is going to be a bit of a learning curve, but I think in terms of the actual food that we're making, we have been rather lucky and how we've been set up because the burgers do transfer pretty well.
I've been to the Short Pump location several times. How's that working in terms of takeout and how does the process differ from one location to another?
We've made tweaks here and there.
We added to our to our online ordering system, we added a curbside carryout button so that when people are placing online orders, they can put in what style of car they have, whether they're in an SUV or a four-door sedan, so on and so forth, what color it is, which helps us see when people are pulling up outside.
We haven't really found that parking is has been too much of a challenge, just because the streets are so much emptier than they then they typically are.
How many people do you manage? How many folks work for Burger Bach?
We have between 35 and 40 people working at each location.
Obviously right now we are trying to continue to provide hours for as many people as we can. With the volume that we're doing now that has presented some challenges, but where we can't provide hours for people we have been doing everything we can to keep up to date with all the government regulations, everything that's kind of coming through the pipeline, we've been directing people towards unemployment so that we can get some help them.
We also did set up a GoFundMe, a Burger Bach GoFundMe for our staff. I'm super, super thankful to our great community of guests and regulars who have contributed.
What have you heard from your guests and regulars? What are some of the conversations you're having with them when they come to pick up their food?
Everyone that I've talked to you just seems very grateful that places are still open. Grateful that they can still get a Burger Bach burger.
We have the four restaurants and some people might call us a chain, but we like to think of ourselves as just being able to provide service for various communities. And we've got great regulars at each of our stores.
So it's been pretty cool to see those people still coming in and still supporting us, asking us how our staffs are doing and just being able to have those conversations with people and see that they care and that we have the support of the community.
How about the people who work with you and for you?
I've actually been kind of surprised by how positive everyone seems to be. I think because so many restaurants are just closing down during this time. You know, everyone on our staff that I've talked to just really seems to be grateful to still be able to get some hours.
Everybody recognizes what's happening right now and recognizes the very difficult position that the entire restaurant industry is in right now.
So spirits from the people that are still working seem to be pretty high.
Working in the kind of smaller groups, just doing to-go, it's kind of bonded us together and made us closer as a team.
Myself and our operations director, we've been in the stores every day, just checking in with people making sure that make sure that we are doing everything that we can to provide support and be on the front lines, working, bagging stuff up.
You mentioned that your menu hasn't really had to change too much. Are you guys doing the wine and beer takeout as well?
We are. Right now we're doing a promotion in our Virginia stores with our growlers.
So our Burger Bach growlers that we have normally $5 and whatever the fill cost is. Right now we're doing growlers for free with a fill and it's 20% off your fill.
So we're doing growlers to go and then we're also doing half price wine bottles, which is a a promotion that we typically run every Wednesday. We're running half price wine bottles every day of the week.
What are some of the most popular items that you guys are selling? Has it changed?
We're probably doing less of our seafood menu than we usually do. I mean, we do you know, shrimp and mussels and those items haven't been that popular.
It is mostly the burgers that we're doing.
But in terms of the burgers that we're doing, our original burger is always our most popular and the original burger has continued to be popular.
It's pretty much been burgers and fries.
So what is the best way for people to get Burger Bach in their bellies?
We offer the curbside pickup. You can call into the store. You can still walk in and pick it up. We also work with Uber Eats, Grubhub, and Doordash for third-party delivery. You can also order it through our website as well. And it'll just automatically come straight to us.
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