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The Restaurant Pivots Diners Hope Stick Around Long After 2020

By this point, folks are pretty universally sick of the word “pivot,” but many have fallen hard for to-go cocktails and online ordering

A hand holds two yellow freezer pops from Castalia in dappled sunlight.
Freezer pop cocktails from Castalia.
EE Berger [Courtesy photo]
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

As is tradition at Eater, we closed out 2020 by surveying local food writers and our own staff on various restaurant-related topics, and publishing their responses throughout the week. Next up: What new pivots or innovative ideas have you seen emerge from the events of 2020 that you hope continue into 2021?

Serena Maria Daniels, Founder and Editor, Tostada Magazine:

I really liked seeing what some of the urban farms have been doing to support local chefs. Keep Growing Detroit and Oakland Avenue Urban Farm, for example, added online sales so that customers can purchase produce boxes online first and pick up purchases from a safe distance. At Keep Growing Detroit, these boxes included packaged food goods created by local chefs or food makers. At Oakland Avenue Urban Farm, they’ve hosted a number of virtual cooking classes taught by Chef Phil Jones. These efforts keep chefs working, at least at some capacity and allow the farms to continue growing and selling food, with social distancing safety measures intact.

Mark Kurlyandchik, Restaurant Critic, Detroit Free Press:

There’s been a warp-speed digitization of the industry that’s been long overdue. Places have updated their POS systems to support online ordering and delivery, etc. That’s made the process more convenient for the consumer, along with the ability to order just about anything you could want or drink to your front door within an hour or so. ... I’m also curious to see just how many people take advantage of outdoor dining in winter. I’m all for taking a more German approach to the cold weather and embracing it, but I wonder how I’d feel saying that when I can’t feel my toes anymore.

Melody Baetens, Restaurant Critic, The Detroit News:

Delivery, three-season or all-season outdoor dining areas, pantry items and meal boxes. Can we keep to-go cocktails, too, please?

Brenna Houck, Editor, Eater Detroit:

I’m loving to-go cocktails and the amount of places that have embraced online ordering, walk-up windows, and groceries. One thing I’m really intrigued by is the emergence of restaurant subscriptions as a way to help stabilize businesses during the pandemic.

Mickey Lyons, Freelance Writer, Eater:

The carryout cocktail and drinking zone allowances could have a real positive impact on Detroit tourism. Imagine being able to take a strolling cocktail tour, or ordering a frozen margarita to sip as you walk along the Riverwalk.

Stacey Brugeman, culinary columnist and freelance writer, Traverse Magazine and Eater:

In a region that is long on natural beauty, 2020’s emphasis on takeout and packable picnics has been welcome. Lunch at the top of a dunes hike? Dinner on the beach? A boater’s box and togo cocktails from the Riverside Inn in Leland while anchored at the sandbar? Yes please!

All Year in Eater Coverage [ED]