If you’re missing the whole experience of dining out, you’re not alone.
Fortunately, you can still enjoy one of the best parts—the expertly prepared food—by ordering a takeout meal from your favourite restaurant.
The Huron Club in Collingwood is an upscale gastropub, known for its live music and locally sourced, seasonally inspired menu. Right now, they’re limited to takeout and delivery service, like all of their fellow restaurants.
They’ve adapted their menu to make it more takeout-friendly, which meant taking off a few items that don’t travel especially well. This was done to ensure that the food you get at home is the same quality that meets the restaurant’s high standards for in-person dining. Calamari, for instance, gets soggy in a takeout container and would disappoint those dining at home.
They also added a number of family-style dinners, taking the guesswork out of what to eat. Popular options include a slow-smoked BBQ feast, buttermilk fried chicken, meatloaf, and fish and chips.
“One of the things we always focus on here is the quality of the product going out; it always has to be good,” says Darrell Mussell, Manager. “We pretty well make everything from scratch here.”
Takeout is a notoriously tough business, and it takes a while to build up clientele. Pub-style menu items aren’t your typical takeout fare, so you really have to work on developing the product. “It has to be good when it gets out there,” says Mussell, “so you can truly have that restaurant experience at home.”
That’s exactly what he wants for diners; keeping prices reasonable is also important. You can feed a family of four for $60 with their takeout options.
“At the end of the day, at this point here with restaurants, nobody’s making money on takeout. We all have our bills to pay and we’re not getting a ton of support financially. You’re just playing defense right now, trying to keep some staff working and keep your name out there in the community.”
In-house, they have made a few changes. They streamlined the kitchen and the restaurant’s point of sales systems so that they’re able to manage takeout orders more effectively. They renovated their lounge area, making it better suited for safe dining during covid restrictions. And of course they haven’t been able to have their trademark live music.
Mussell opened the restaurant in the summer of 2018, and the restaurant has been closed to dine in or under Covid restrictions since March 2020. Even so, he has a refreshingly optimistic take on the situation. “In its own way, we were doing okay,” he says. “The last shutdown gave us time to analyze what we were doing and how we were doing it. Some positive stuff came out of that.”
Over the summer, with relaxed restrictions in place, the restaurant was very busy, even with limited seating. Mussell is grateful for the support from the community and the restaurant’s current guest base. He has been pleasantly surprised with the response received.
During the first shutdown he wanted to do something to support the community, so he rallied a group of restaurants who wanted to give back. Ten got together to offer complimentary meals. Recipients had to be affected by COVID-19 in some form—or have a friend or a family member who was.
Restaurants Helping You was so successful that they ended up sending out about a hundred meals. Keen to keep it going, Mussell is in the process of getting it up and running again.
“We can’t control what’s happened, this is something completely out of our hands. All we can do is think outside the box a little bit and try to come up with some unique ways to still serve guests and get our product out there.”
Mussell has used the time in lockdown as an opportunity to revisit his business plan and see if it can be fine-tuned. Staff are getting things ready for when they do re-open again and all are looking forward with excitement to what will hopefully be a great summer.
For more information, visit The Huron Club or call 705-293-6677.