It was Taco Tuesday when Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that the state would temporarily allow restaurants to sell alcohol to-go. Almost immediately, the phones at Local Cantina’s seven open Columbus-area locations started ringing with callers asking one thing: how quickly could they get a margarita?
Leanna McKenney Heath, one of the group’s operations managers, asked for just a few hours, and soon had a new section for alcohol available on the Paytronix online ordering platform.
“Now I have a whole section on there dedicated to margaritas,” McKenney Heath said. “The ID verification that the customer gets, letting them know at least three times they’re going to have to show their ID to pick it up, is really great.”
This is just one of the ways the restaurants have adapted to operate under the new normal that the novel coronavirus has ushered in.
The group, which simply goes by Local Cantina, operates 18 restaurants in the Columbus area. Ten of those sell tacos and signature margaritas, while the other eight range in concept from modern, upscale American with an Italian flare to barbecue and sushi. Every location uses the Paytronix platform for takeout and delivery, and half of them have stayed open during the pandemic.
While laying off their 400 hourly employees was “heartbreaking, to say the least,” McKenney Heath and the remaining salaried managers quickly mobilized to pare down their menu with a focus on fresh and travel-sturdy dishes. They’ve also used Paytronix to encourage a contactless experience among their guests.
“We offer a 10% discount on food to anyone who chooses to order and pay online,” McKenney Heath explained. “That has definitely, really helped ensure the safety of our customers as well as our employees.”
Part of this includes embracing the curbside pickup functionality, enabling guests to order, pay for, and pick up their food without ever leaving the safety of their car.
Plus, staying open for business has allowed the leadership team to give laid off employees gift cards along with their last paychecks to come back for a hot meal (employee discount still applied). Those that are really struggling economically are able to pick up pantry boxes at the restaurant to feed their families. It’s all keeping in line with the family-oriented culture Local Cantina has built over the years.
“We quickly tried to regain our footing,” McKenney Heath said. “[Paytronix] has been a huge asset to us.”