Our Consulting Editor Heleri Rande together with her partners at THINK Hospitality Group have been tracking what different hospitality businesses around the world are doing to try and maintain as much of their business as possible, keep teams employed and support communities.


The most obvious opportunity for most has been to turn to delivery – in many shapes and forms. McDonald’s is perhaps the biggest player to have announced a major move to drive-thru and takeaway only, closing its in-store seating – something that many other quick-service restaurants and to-go brands have also done.

For businesses that are usually full service, or experience focused, this is less natural. Those brands will need to be extra creative to get the message out and to cut through the white noise of communication. A plethora of brands are doing just that:

  • Yesterday morning, we saw iconic London Indian brand Dishoom launch its menu on delivery platforms, with a little teaser about getting one of its legendary bacon and egg naans.
  • Helsinki-based Michelin-starred chef Sasu Laukkonen is switching his intimate 20-seat restaurant, Ora, into a sushi production facility for takeaway over the coming weeks.
  • London’s Lupin Restaurant founders Lucy Pedder and Natasha Cooke have set up and branded their own delivery service called ‘Women on Wheels’, offering customers ‘healthy delicious sunshine food’ delivered by ‘girls whizzing around the city on mopeds’.
  • Chef Damian Wawrzyniak, who runs the House of Feasts restaurant outside Peterborough in the UK, saw the way trade was going early on and last week increased production of a pierogi, sourdough bread, duck leg, which he is offering as takeaway and through delivery within five miles, alongside a special menu. He is avoiding using platforms and encouraging guests to order via his website or Facebook page.
  • Danish brand Sticks’n’Sushi are offering a ‘Unity’ menu, with their best-priced family meal for pick-up.
  • 25Hours Hotels, a hotel chain mostly based in German-speaking countries, has opened the majority of its restaurants for take-away.
  • New York City two-site restaurant group Mala Project has released a ‘Quarantine Food’ offer, to ‘spice up New Yorkers’ pantries’. These include boxes of noodles and special dishes in jars at $12 each, which can be put on noodles, rice, eggs, pancakes, stir-fried veggies and dumplings. They will be offered through delivery. They even created a website specially for it.
  • Another independent that quickly adapted was Coffeeology in Hammersmith, London, which installed a new counter at its door, to trade right at the street edge.
  • In Denmark, Michelin-recognised Brace went viral as the chef, Nicola Fanetti personally delivered meals to guests’ homes.
  • Whisper Sister, a speakeasy bar in Tallinn, Estonia, has pre-batched Negronis and Old Fashioned cocktails for takeaway.
  • UK based pub company Oakman Inns has managed to activate a takeaway version of its menu quickly and is rapidly looking to offer delivery, with a focus on offering families a solution for Mother’s Day at home, which is this Sunday in the UK.
  • Industry disruptor Brewdog was fast to react and introduced the Brewdog drive-thru, offering food and beer, ordered through the app and brought to your car on arrival at the bar.
  • With THINK we have followed a similar lead at our venture, I am Doner, offering drive through at our Harrogate store and removing the seats from all other stores, to go strictly takeaway only.

We understand that the delivery and takeaway aggregators are working hard to onboard new businesses as quickly as they can onto their platforms. Speaking to executives at Just Eat, they have confirmed the platform has been inundated with requests, as one would expect.

The technology partner in I am Doner, Vita Mojo, announced it was working hard to extend its order and collect to include steps to support client delivery.

For those looking for a free, quick, easy, direct online platform in the UK, THINK has previously worked with Gloria Food, which offers a good entry-level system that can be implemented quickly. Most countries will have similar services, so look them up.

The learning here is that restaurants, pubs and bars of all sizes and levels are adapting to takeaway and delivery – all the way to Michelin-starred fine-dining restaurants. But also that in the rush to extend their business models, the winners make sure that they don’t just become another brand that delivers – they ensure that this is communicated to their loyal guests in a way that gets them noticed.


One of the first reactions of those faced with closure was to encourage guests to buy gift vouchers – it has spread rapidly. While some great stories of generous guests buying big vouchers have appeared, and in the US this seems to be working, in Europe the majority we spoke to have had limited success with this – presumably as guests tighten their own spending and worry about the future of these businesses:

  • Internationally renowned bar entrepreneur Ryan Chetiyawardana, who goes by the name Mr Lyan, was quick to respond, encouraging gift vouchers for his venues online. One of his venues, Lyan Cub is promoting a special voucher that includes set food and drinks for two, plus an extra round of drinks and cheese course.
  • New York restaurant publicists Steven Hall and Helen Patrikis quickly set about creating the Dining Bond Initiative, seeking to bring in immediate cash in exchange for future restaurant purchases. Diners can buy gift certificates sold at a 25% discount (US$100 worth of food for a US$75 bond) to be redeemed in a participating restaurant in the future, depending on how individual restaurants decide to honour the bonds.
  • London’s Harts Group, which owns Quo Vadis, El Pastor, Casa Pastor and Barrafina, distributed a newsletter to its database offering guests a £1,000 voucher that will be worth £1,250.
  • Modern Indian restaurant group Kricket, which operates three venues, of which all are temporarily closed due to the outbreak, offered guests purchasing their vouchers 20% extra than the cash value they pay – they will be valid until the end of the year.

If you are keen to give this a go, there are plenty of providers out there, but one of the partners THINK works with, RSVP, has quickly worked to turn its integrated gift-voucher system into a SAAS product over the last couple of days to help restaurants quickly get up and running to sell gift vouchers online.


It is with absolute misery that many executives have had to take the decision to make lay-offs right now. While some countries have announced schemes to support individuals in this predicament, such as Denmark, France and Ireland, others have not yet done so – in the UK, our hope is that a policy will kick in soon. In addition, there are a number of welcome initiatives being developed by industry and entrepreneurs:

  • Only A Pavement Away, the charity that supports homeless and vulnerable people into jobs in hospitality, has announced a pay-gap fund that ensures its members don’t fall back into destitution.
  • James Brown and the team at TipJar have launched a Hospitality Workers Emergency Fund to support those in need with Hospitality Action, where 100% of donations will go directly to the hospitality workers that need them.
  • Hospitality icon Danny Meyer, who was among the first New York restaurateurs to shut his restaurants, announced that he’s creating a relief fund for Union Square Hospitality Group team members, seeding the effort by contributing his entire salary and a meaningful executive pay cut. Alongside this, he announced that all gift-voucher sales for the next week will go directly to this fund.


At a time of crisis, leaders are made and reputations destroyed. How leaders and companies communicate will often be the deciding factor in their lasting reputations. We have seen some incredible proactive communication that we can all learn from:

  • Peter Borg-Neal, Chief Executive at Oakman Inns, publicly shared his video to the team, where he was calm, reassuring and most of all set out a clear plan that the team could trust in. In a multi-site business, video is a great way of communicating as it is more personal and easier to trust than a letter.
  • Pret Chief Executive Pano Christou has been at the forefront of communications from the company, personally signing documents, even including his direct email. For a business of such size, this feels impressive and helps by giving customers someone to trust in.
  • Upon closing their restaurants, Will Beckett and Huw Gott, founders of Hawksmoor, publicly shared a letter via their social media channels, which was written with absolute grace and decorum that detailed the challenge and their response, showing them to be genuine and in touch.
  • New owners of the East of England institution Zaks, Chris Carr & Ian Hacon, who are a few months into running the company, again took to video to reassure customers, taking the front foot.


It’s important to remember that while this is a terrible time for our economy and the hospitality sector, it is primarily a public-health emergency and as such there are a group of people who are at the coal face of this. Healthcare professionals are putting in countless hours and, in some cases, risking their lives. Several brands are supporting them during this time:

  • McDonald’s is offering all health, emergency and council workers free hot and cold drinks in much of the world.
  • Pret is offering all frontline NHS staff free tea and coffee, and 50% off other items in store, in the UK.
  • Kane in Bucharest is transforming itself from restaurant to community kitchen serving hospitality workers and those whose jobs don’t allow them to be at home during this time, while giving chefs from other restaurants an opportunity to support.
  • Belgian creative restaurant chain Balls & Glory has come out with the campaign ‘Donate A Ball’ where people can pledge €8 on its website and the company doubles it, taking one portion to the health workers.
  • Brewdog is using its stills to produce alcohol gels, which it is offering free to those in need. Many other brewers and distillers are taking similar actions.
  • Indian street food brand Mowgli is feeding NHS workers for free ahead of its temporary closure in the UK.
  • Domino’s is hosting Free Pizza Friday this week for all NHS staff in the UK.
  • In New York, chef Marcus Samuelsson’s team voluntarily prepared 150 meals for Harlem’s Bethel Gospel Assembly Food Pantry.
  • Feya Cafe in London is giving complimentary tea, coffee or a meal for the NHS and also donating surplus food to food banks.
  • We’ve seen Siigur Restaurant Group in Estonia also donate its leftover produce to the Estonian Food Bank. Something that Adrian Cummins of the Restaurant Association of Ireland has encouraged, as well as to homeless charities and meals-on-wheels operators.


  • Kate Nicholls and the team at UK Hospitality are doing an incredible job representing our sector. They are updating their advice here.
  • Mark McCulloch from Supersonic is putting out some great content about how to market during this time. You can follow him here.
  • Find our earlier article that still has lots of pertinent advice – here.

This article has been created by the team of partners, associates and consultants at THINK Hospitality Group.