Once the dust settled a bit, Firebirds aimed to become a one-stop shop for guests. And a natural extension, given the chain cuts all its beef, seafood, and poultry in-house, was to introduce a “Butcher Shoppe” program where customers could grab raw items and make them at home. For example, a “Burger Pack” tailgating kit that includes eight half-pound burgers with brioche buns ($39.99) or a “Steak Pack” that features two 14-ounce ribeyes, two 7-ounce center-cut sirloins, and four half-pound burgers ($59.99). All of the options include Firebirds’ signature steak seasoning.
Loftis says people showed up for pickup, grabbed a family meal, and then added a few steaks or other Butcher Shoppe items to cook the next day. Also, in certain markets where laws allow it, Firebirds launched FIREBAR To-Go, which packages drink options, like the company’s Double Black Diamond Martini.
One of the first adjustments for Firebirds was to stand up curbside. It created makeshift drive thrus like those you see dotting parking lots of full-service chains nationwide. Guests can order online, pull up, and have food simply placed in the backseat, trunk, or wherever.
Loftis doesn’t see curbside losing steam. Beyond the convenience benefit, it helps the restaurant. Off-premises guests stay in their cars as opposed to crowding the lobby or bar. This is, naturally, important today as restaurants navigate capacity restrictions and try to promote social distancing. But it will remain viable even when people pack dining rooms. Bartenders or frontline employees can focus on serving guests in front of them instead of running food out. This is doubly true with third-party drivers. “It is here to stay,” Loftis says.
Just like with family meals and adjusting menu offerings to further its off-premises lineup during COVID, Firebirds is working to boost curbside. It’s run a test with FlyBuy, a company that presents like an Uber for tracking cars that show up. The restaurant can observe how close a customer is and prevent employees from constantly having to look out the window to see if they’re approaching. It then alerts staff when the guest is a mile out and .1 miles out.
Firebirds, which backends its service through Olo, has not formalized the test systemwide but continues to look at opportunities to improve curbside as it solidifies its spot in the company’s off-premises future.