Off The Menu: Restaurants offer takeout only, cutting hours to cope with labor shortages


A recent email from a reader touched on a subtle but visible manifestation of the current staffing crisis in the restaurant industry. The reader’s request concerned that a fast food restaurant remained closed, although the respective restaurant was otherwise “business as usual”.

His questions were discussed in the catering press, and it was agreed that many quick service restaurants are addressing their staff shortages by closing dining rooms and redirecting workers to take-away and drive-through services. The latter can account for 50% or more of the sales of many fast food restaurants.

Higher hourly wages can also be a motivation. With their margins squeezed by increased food and paper costs, some fast food operators may have chosen to limit labor costs by only focusing on take-away.

Full-service restaurants reacted slightly differently to their help problems. In many cases, operations that were seven days a week before the pandemic are now only open five or even four days a week.

The menus have also been simplified in order to relieve kitchens with scarce staff. Mezze Bar + Bistro in Williamstown recently sent a message to those on their email list explaining why the establishment now offers a fixed-price menu rather than the more extensive a la carte options it did before had made available.

The email stated that a limited choice of dining options (which mezze changes weekly) allows the restaurant to operate more efficiently with fewer staff.

Participating Dunkin locations across western Massachusetts are promoting a Red Sox Summer with a limited-edition Fenway Faithful donut and some special prices on several popular espresso drinks.

The “Fenway Faithful” donut, which will be available for the rest of the Red Sox season, is a vanilla ice cream donut topped with limited Red Sox red sprinkles.

From now until August 17, Dunkin ‘branches are offering special prices for medium-hot or ice-cold lattes, cappuccino and signature lattes every day from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Dunkin ‘stores in the Springfield area are also running a “Raise a Cup to Coaches” sweepstakes through August 15th. Fans can nominate a deserving youth sports coach; A main prize is awarded weekly and at the end of the competition. Visit for more information.

You can find information about the latest offers from Dunkin on Facebook at

One of the newest buzzwords in the restaurant business is “Call Deflection Technology”, the euphemistic name for software products that are supposed to help restaurants avoid phone calls.

We all have the “pleasure” of dealing with automated attendants. The purpose of call forwarding technology is similar to that of an answering machine – it answers a restaurant’s phone and directs callers to the restaurant’s website or to the online ordering point.

While “call diversion” could relieve restaurant staff from annoying customer contacts, is this really a strategy that promotes customer satisfaction? Software vendors promoting the call forwarding product claim it does, but many of us don’t enjoy talking to “smart agents” when calling a company, especially when our question isn’t built into the software algorithm who drives this robotics intelligence.

Call forwarding is a business strategy, some might argue, that threatens to further undermine the hospitality that should be part of the dining experience.

It is often said that nothing is as successful as excess, and for bacon lovers, that popular wisdom would apply to the “Mercia Burger” debuting this July at Slaters 50/50, a California beer-and-burger chain .

Slaters 50/50 takes its name in part from its signature 50/50 patty, a half-mix of ground bacon and ground beef.

An outrageous homage to the cured and smoked pork belly, the “Merica Burger” consists of two 100% ground bacon patties with bacon mac & cheese, bacon coleslaw, bacon island dressing and a grilled beef and bacon hot link that has been glazed with red pepper sauce.

The sandwich, served with one side, sells at a patriotic price – $ 17.76.

To see a photo of the Merica Burger, visit the chain’s web address,

Teresa’s restaurant in Ware has resumed planning dinner and show events. On August 20th, Teresa presents a Jason Aldean tribute performance, “The Ultimate Aldean Starting Greg West”.

The evening includes a cocktail hour that starts at 6pm; A six-course menu is served at 7 p.m.

Tickets, which cost $ 50, include taxes and gratuities. Call the restaurant at (413) 967-7601 to make reservations.

When promoting their products in the hospitality industry, one of the tools food processing companies use is suggestions for menu items that use ingredients that these companies sell.

Recipes for these promotions are typically developed by professional chefs and culinary consultants, and the ideas they generate take up a large portion of the advertising space food companies buy in trade magazines.

The recipes often seem a bit constructed, but every now and then an interesting idea pops up.

An example of this is a formula for “Africana Pizza” recently promoted by Dole Foodservice. It’s a cake derived from a Hawaiian pizza with a topping of tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, sliced ​​bananas, and pineapple treats. Dusting curry powder adds flavor; a garnish of crushed, salted peanuts improves the texture and flavor profile.

Instructions for putting together an Africana pizza can be found on under the link “Recipes / Banana”.

Many restaurant operators have been forced to be creative as they struggled to recruit additional staff. They held national recruitment days, paid referral bonuses, and interviewed.

Now Chipotle Mexican Grill, based in Newport Beach, California, has implemented a new strategy. The chain encourages job seekers to submit short video résumés through social media through TikTok.

The TikTok resume initiative is designed to reach the Gen Z demographic, according to a Chipotle spokesperson, “enabling potential applicants to showcase their authenticity and true passions in a unique way”.

Applicants can use to find job vacancies and submit video resumes, which must be tagged with the hashtag #TikTokResumes.

Chipotle plans to resume TikTok by the end of July.

Cedar Street Grille in Sturbridge has its monthly tapas dinner on August 3rd at 5:30 pm

The theme of the August event will be Spanish-Mediterranean tapas and will feature small plates of seafood, lamb, pork, charcuterie, local cheeses, and seasonal fruits and vegetables.

The ticket price of USD 65 per person includes a special regional selection of cocktails, wines or beers. Reservations can be made by calling (508) 347-5800.

Table 3 Group, which operates the Cedar Street Grille, also sent their THE FORK food truck to farmers markets and other community events across the area this summer. The truck offers a selection of Table 3 specialties and regularly participates in the Sturbridge Famer’s Market, which takes place every Sunday on Sturbridge Town Common.

THE FORK is also due to be seen at the Main Street Farmer’s Market in Wilbraham on August 12th.

Magpie’s Woodfired Pizzeria in Greenfield is fully operational again and offers indoor restaurants and take away again.

Their web address is; they answer at (413) 475-3570.

The November 2019 launch of a signature chicken sandwich by Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. is widely believed to spark what has since become known in food industry circles as the “Chicken Sandwich Wars.”

Popeyes hopes to repeat this success story by introducing chicken nuggets again on its menu. The nuggets are formulated to have a taste signature similar to that of the no longer viral Popeyes chicken sandwich. A variety of dipping sauce options are offered, including Bayou Buffalo, BoldBQ, Blackened Ranch, and Mardi Gras Mustard.

The nuggets, which will go on sale on July 27th, are available in portion packs of four to 36 pieces.

There are Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen locations on 665 Boston Road and Memorial Drive in Chicopee.

Galo Rei in Springfield advertises its Churrasqueira (Portuguese barbecue) menu as a quick and filling lunch six days a week.

Located on Boston Road across from Five Mile Pond, Galo Rei serves authentic Portuguese cuisine and grilled specialties such as pork spare ribs.

The Portuguese-style grilled chicken is the house specialty, but they also offer grilled shrimp, linguica, and steak picanha.

The restaurant’s menu can be viewed at; they answer at (413) 455-2847.

Hugh Robert is a faculty member of Holyoke Community College’s Hospitality and Culinary Arts program and has nearly 45 years of dining and education experience. Robert can be reached online at [email protected]

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