OCEANO, Calif. -- The South County Chambers of Commerce is asking community members to take part in "Takeout Tuesday."
The social media campaign has been ongoing for nearly one year, since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We started promoting Takeout Tuesday right away, and we got such great feedback from the restaurants to keep it going because we still need those orders," said South County Chambers of Commerce President/CEO Jocelyn Brennan. "They want to retain as many staff as they possibly can, and they want to keep their business alive, so we can keep pushing Takeout Tuesday."
According to Brennan, many restaurants are still struggling financially even after Gov. Gavin Newsom recently lifted the regional stay-at-home order two weeks ago.
"They are still really dependant on those takeout and delivery orders even though they are open for outdoor dining now," said Brennan. "That's not as many seats as they would normally have and so therefore it's not as much revenue they would normally have."
For restaurants like Old Juan's Cantina in Oceano, ownership said the promotional effort is paying off.
"We've certainly see a difference on Tuesdays thanks to their promotion and it's really a lifeline to a lot of our restaurants, helping us keep our employees working and our businesses going," said Old Juan's Cantina co-owner Adam Verdin. "Covid has been incredibly tough and incredibly challenging and the saving grace has been the community that we live in and the support that all of us restaurateurs benefit from."
Verdin, whose family has owned the popular Mexican restaurant at the busy intersection of Highway 1 and Pier Avenue for more than 40 years, has jumped right into the takeout model.
The restaurant installed a new drive-through system last year that is similar to those used at national fast food restaurants.
"The whole concept of takeout right now is a way for people to enjoy their favorite restaurant in a way that follows all of the safety protocols that are recommended," said Verdin. "It's been very well received by the community. It allows people to order their food in a different way and also allows for a near non-contactless interaction with staffing in picking up their food."
Customers appreciate the efforts restaurants like Old Juan's has taken to during these challenging times.
"We really like to support local restaurants and local businesses, so something like this is wonderful, because it makes it so convenient. We get to pick up our favorite kind of food and we don't have to go inside and it just makes it easy and quick," said customer Jeff Willis. "It's a cool setup and it's all part of a whole really neat process to support the local community to get people out and interacting again."
Brennan also points out that for many restaurants adjusting to a new takeout or drive-through format has come with considerable cost.
"They've had to invest in new supply chains," said Brennan. "They had to invest in all the takeout equipment, all the packaging. Those are all expensive investments, and they made those investments trusting that they would do a fairly decent takeout order."
She adds the increased costs makes customer support, as well as the Takeout Tuesday promotion, so invaluable.
"We are super grateful for the community for ordering on Takeout Tuesday," said Brennan. "It has really helped the businesses. "We're hoping that people have formed some new habits and people will continue to support their local businesses. That is one of the silver linings of Covid, is we have seen the community really rally around the small businesses, and we hope that lasts long after the pandemic goes away."