A precious few restaurants can survive on carry-out alone. Those hardest hit are the ones which, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, provided jovial places to gather with friends, relaxing dining rooms for enjoyable evenings out and places to celebrate special occasions.
Even when Milwaukee restaurants are allowed to open their dining rooms (likely at a reduced capacity, there will be a need to look for additional revenue streams in order to assure long-term sustainability.
As a result, some restaurants are already moving forward with innovative ideas that could help them weather the storm and (hopefully) come back stronger than ever.
Thinking outside the restaurant
"We’re looking at pushing our brands forward in really different ways," says Chef Andrew Miller co-owner of the forthcoming Flourchild pizza, Third Coast Provisions and Merriment Social. "For us, it’s no longer only about filling the seats in our restaurants; instead we’re trying to balance that with other forms of revenue.
"To do that, we’re taking a look at a variety of approaches being implemented all over the world. There are countries that deliver all kinds of food very efficiently to folks in their homes. The big question for us is: How can we bring restaurant experiences to guests’ homes? Right now we’re exploring a lot of different options that allow us to really meet people where they are."
In the case of Flourchild, that means launching not only the brick and mortar restaurant, which has been hosting pop-ups at Third Coast Provisions in preparation for opening, but also offering a selection of their pies as frozen products which can be baked and enjoyed at home.
A better frozen pizza
"There isn’t really a big market of par-baked frozen pizzas," says Miller. "But, because they’re made fresh and frozen this way, the result you get when you bake them at home is pretty different from an ordinary frozen pizza. They don’t taste the same at all."
The premium par-baked frozen pizzas are currently available in two flavors: Cheese (red sauce, fresh mozzarella, aged mozzarella, fresh basil, pecorino and extra virgin olive oil, $15) and Club Banger (red sauce, Ezzo pepperoni, fresh mozzarella, aged mozzarella, calabrian chili honey, $16).
Lead time is currently about one-week for orders, which can be placed for curbside pick-up or shipped around the country. Pre-orders can be placed online at flourchild.pizza.
"We’re all on our toes right now, trying to be as creative as possible," says co-owner Samuel Emery of the Flourchild launch, which included sending sample pizzas to David Portnoy of Barstool Sports with the hope of getting a review to raise awareness.
And that’s exactly what they got. The online video review, which garnered them a place in Portnoy’s top ten pizzas and a score of 7.7 overall, went gangbusters, resulting in a sold out Flourchild pop-up and an incredible number of online orders.
"In all the dismal fog and confusion, I’m really proud of Andrew and our team. We’ve really worked well together to make this happen," says Emery. "My little brother Luke was really hyped up about BarStool Sports way before the rest of us, so that idea came from him. Our pastry chef did lots of digging to locate his address. And Kasey Hurst designed the labels."
On top of it all, the team received incredible support from Dan and Lisa Weber of the Walker’s Point UPS Store, who generously donated their time and energy to a package design that allows the pizzas to be shipped across the country safely.
"The bigger push now is getting our product into retail," says Miller. "And at that point our business model really changes for the better. Doing these things now ensures that we’ll have some money to pay people later."
Want to try their pizza in carry-out form? Keep a close eye on the Flourchild pizza and Third Coast Provisions Instagram feeds for news on their next Flourchild pop-up. Now that the world knows how good their pizza really is, they’re selling out fast.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.