As restaurants begin to reopen after coronavirus lockdowns are lifted, none of them are going back to business as usual. Many venues are offering takeout and delivery and opening their dining rooms to a smaller capacity. But a few businesses have reopened and reframed their operations in a creative way to draw new customers and revenue.

Here’s a look at four creative trends we’re seeing from restaurants, venues, and catering services.

1. Microparties

Pizza Barbone, a traveling pizza oven catering business based in Hyannis, MA, has offered a solution to clients wanting to hold an event but are concerned about capacity and contact at venues. They’ve introduced microparties, which they’ve defined as gatherings of 20 or fewer guests held at a client’s home. For $500, Pizza Barbone will bring its pizza oven food truck to the residence, where one employee — dressed head to toe in personal protective equipment — will serve a salad, four flavors of pizza, and mini cannolis.

 

2. Weddings reimagined

During the pandemic, some couples have decided to postpone their weddings, while others have gone the virtual route. For those who want the wedding to go on sooner rather than later during our new normal, venues are creating new event packages to accommodate their wishes.

The Stowehof, an Alpine hotel in Vermont, is promoting microweddings for two to 80 guests for dates in 2020 and through 2021. Blue Bee Cider, a Virginia cidery, has taken the microwedding even further with an elopement package that includes an officiant, cider, and a cheese and charcuterie platter for up to 10 people. 

St. Louis venue The Caramel Room knows that when the lockdown rules are relaxed, their weekends will be booked up with weddings for the rest of the year so they have a promotion that appeals to the couples who just can’t wait and just can’t find an open weekend. Their Married on a Monday package provides a 15% discount for food and beverage for new and existing weddings that opt to move their plans to a weekday. 

 

3. Pop-up events

The families holding drive-by birthday parties have inspired event professionals across the country to offer socially-distanced outdoor celebrations and experiences to people’s homes. Alexandria Rembac of Sterling Engagements in Los Angeles created two pop-up events for 2020 graduates

The first, “Grad at the Pad,” was a celebration at a home in Orange County. Graduates could drive up to the home, exit their cars, and — staying six feet apart from each other — picked up a lei, posed for photos in front of black and white graduation themed backdrops, and grabbed graduation treats on the way out. 

Rembrac’s second event was a prom pop-up with a similar itinerary. Couples parked outside of a home in the LA suburbs, walked through a dreamy purple and pink-themed setup with a band and aerial artists, posed for photos in their prom outfits, and picked up a piece of cake to go before heading home.

 

4. Virtual experiences

In the interest of safety, restaurants have also introduced new online ventures, such as wine tastings and cooking classes, that customers can enjoy from home. Addo restaurant in Seattle has put their own spin on the online trend by creating online experiences. Their Ballpark at Home experience — priced at $45 per person — provided delivery of hot dog kits, garlic fries kits, peanuts popcorn, Red Rope candy, and beer. Participants logged in to a Zoom meeting and watched a vintage Seattle Mariners game.

They also offered an at-home camping trip at $225 for two people, which included a tent, camping food, and a video that was designed to run throughout the evening and shows a walk through the forest, lighting a campfire, and nighttime noises you could fall asleep to in your tent.

 

More resources for event professionals

Tripleseat has been holding weekly Social Hours, which are virtual roundtables for event professionals to connect and get advice from their peers on how they are reopening their venues and managing events after the pandemic. We have two Social Hours coming up this week. One includes special guest Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, who will be joined by Tripleseat CEO Jonathan Morse on Thursday, May 21 at 3 pm. Register online to join the Social Hour via GoToWebinar.

The second Social Hour — Open Forum on Reopening — is scheduled for Wednesday, May 20 at 3:30 pm. We’ll be speaking with event professionals from across the United States on the lessons they’re learning as states lift restrictions on dining in and allow for increases in capacity. Register on Zoom to participate in the open forum.

If you’ve missed our past roundtables, you can access recordings of Social Hour online. Event professionals can also find more tips for the hospitality industry on our blog; by listening to our Two Chicks, Three Seats podcast; and by joining our Facebook group, Event Manager Community, to connect with peers and discuss the impact of the coronavirus on the events industry.

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