Like virtually every other restaurant operator, Rosenthal was forced to adapt almost daily—“We pivoted seven trillion times,” he says—and that included doing takeout packages, hosting pop-ups, even running food deliveries himself. But in the end, it was a newfangled quick-service trick that saved him: chicken sandwiches served out of a ghost kitchen.
“Fried chicken was a way that we’ve been able to … generate revenue so we can keep people employed and keep our main managers and cooks and chefs hanging around,” Rosenthal says, “so that when we get out of this thing, we can succeed.”
The last year has been one like no other for the foodservice industry. And no matter how each restaurant has fared throughout the coronavirus pandemic, one thing has proved true for all operations, from quick service to fine dining: There were lessons to be learned from peers up and down the service spectrum.
Searching for a sustainable business
Before the pandemic, Rosenthal was plotting The Lucky Well’s bright future. Two Philly-area locations were open with a third on the way, and expansion into Chicago was on the docket. People loved the concept—full bar, live music, brisket to die for—and developers were knocking.