DFW Restaurants Must Evolve in a COVID-19 World


In a very short time period, restaurants are having to evolve in a new world of vigilance against COVID-19. Red Stix Asian Street Food, newly opened near SMU by Chef Uno Immanivong, and Big Al’s Smokehouse BBQ, a 45-year Dallas staple, are just two DFW restaurants pivoting their business models to cope with COVID-19. Whether the restaurant has been open a few months or a few decades, the next few months are daunting.

With the new announcement today limiting restaurants in Dallas to delivery and take-out, both are now closed for in-restaurant dining, but customers are still allowed to come inside to pick up their orders. “At Red Stix, we continue to sanitize all surfaces, so much so that I have little bleach spots on my clothes, and I am currently permeating the scent of Clorox original,” Chef Uno Immanivong, owner of Red Stix jokes. “We are focusing solely on delivery, take out from our walk-up window and curbside delivery. We are confident our facility and the food we are serving is clean and safe to eat.”

Big Al’s traditionally has a strong focus on catering large events, and with gatherings being limited currently, a shift is necessary. “We’ve had several large catering orders cancel because events are being shut down all over the city. We need to make up that income somehow, so we’ve been in deep brainstorming sessions with our team to figure what people want this week – and what they’ll want next week with the environment changing so rapidly,” Lauran Weiner, owner of Big Al’s Smokehouse BBQ, says. “In addition to the intensified focus on cleaning and sanitation, we are focused on delivery, curbside delivery and take out ordering, stocking up on appropriate containers and packaging to ensure the quality of food and the safety of our customers.”

Both restaurant owners agree: they need the community’s help in this stressful time. There are several important ways the community can support local businesses. Both Big Al’s and Red Stix offer online and call-in ordering for delivery, take out and curbside delivery and are pushing customers to utilize the platforms.

Curbside delivery is a first for both restaurants, “but we understand the concerns of the community right now and we want to offer a way for them to support us and stay within their comfort zones,” Lauran says.

“We also want to make it easy for people to support us, so Red Stix is offering pre-packaged skewers and meals vaccum-sealed for guests to take home and freeze,” Chef Uno says. Buying meats like skewers from Red Stix or a large smoked brisket or chicken breast from Big Al’s is a great alternative to standing in the lines at the grocery store, plus with curbside delivery, you don’t even have to get out of the car. This is an effective way to stock up on food while also supporting local businesses. Purchasing gift cards is another great way to support local businesses, Big Al’s is offering eGift Cards for a 10% discount, click here.

Both restaurant owners also have a staff of employees to back and, along with making the restaurant a safe place to work, they want to make sure they can continue supporting them. “We have some employees at Big Al’s that have been with us since almost opening day, 45 years ago. We’re offering free meals to our staff to bring home to their families so they can make sure to have nutritious meals to keep them energized and hopefully ease a little of the stress we’re all feeling,” Lauran says.

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