Why this drive-through restaurant could be the future of fine dining

The restaurant industry has been hit by the pandemic, sparking a wave of new and creative dining ideas across the country, from bars offering take-out cocktail mixes to pizzerias turning into product stalls. Today, 10 renowned chefs from Los Angeles join forces in an ambitious new experience.

On October 15-16, dining technology platform Resy is hosting a 10-course drive-through dinner at the Hollywood Palladium prepared by these chefs who could be a role model in bringing high-end restaurants back to life. “It could be done in any city,” says Mei Lin, chef and owner of Nightshade. “It would require organization and logistics, but it is possible.

The event, called Resy Drive Thru, is sponsored by American Express. The diners will stay in their cars and cross a track made up of 10 stations, where they will be served a dish prepared by each of the 10 restaurants.

Guests will be served food in single-use containers and will be given a tray to eat on. Each car will have its own designated server who will guide them through the process. (All event staff will wear gloves, masks, and face shields; they will also be tested for COVID-19 before arriving at the event and their temperature will be taken at the door.) The entire experience costs $ 95 per person, and can be purchased in groups of up to four in a single vehicle. There is room for 600 people over two nights.

[Image: courtesy Resy]

Lin says she was immediately drawn to the concept when Resy came up with the idea. “Drive-thru is such an innovative way to serve food,” she says. “This is an established concept in the fast food industry, but there is no similar infrastructure for other types of restaurants. “

The chefs have come up with entirely new dishes for the event that are meant to be on par with the food they serve in their restaurants, yet easy to eat in a car. Nancy Silverton serves spicy lamb chops with tzatziki and Armenian spices, while Jon & Vinny’s offers a mortadella sandwich with an apple and truffle fondue. For dessert, the Japanese restaurant Konbi offers petit fours, including a caramel and ganache pie infused with Hojicha green tea. Curtis Stone, owner of Gwen and Maude, is still making his dish. “For those of us who work in gastronomy, we are motivated by creating dishes that transport the guest in one way or another. It has been a long time since we had the opportunity to prepare food like this, ”he says.

Stone says part of what’s exciting about this drive-thru is that it gives chefs and restaurateurs the opportunity to collaborate to create a cohesive menu, while also compassionate their individual struggles. “The fight is so real that we can’t really think of anything else,” he said.

[Image: courtesy Resy]

It was obvious from the start that it was not possible to imitate the charm or elegance of a dining room, but this project inspires chefs to think outside the box. The restaurant industry is currently devastated by COVID-19, especially restaurants that do not have options suitable for pandemics, such as outdoor seating or take out and delivery. The sector has already lost $ 120 billion and is expected to reach $ 240 billion by the end of the year. More than six million jobs have been permanently cut.

Restaurateurs had to pivot quickly to survive. Stone closed Maude, his fine dining restaurant, and leaned heavily on Gwen, who has an adjoining butcher’s shop. He kept his staff by redeploying them to make comfort food for take out or delivery. “We had to be nimble and think, but you can’t really beat this crisis,” he says. “At this point, we’re just making up for Maude’s losses. “

Lin herself made the painful decision to temporarily close her restaurant in March when it became clear that there was no way to properly distance herself socially in her tiny dining room. She considered launching a takeout menu, but after doing the math she determined it wasn’t economically feasible. In the end, it closed its doors completely and laid off all of its staff. This project will allow him to call on certain members of his team to conceptualize the dish, then cook it for hundreds of guests.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but it’s a start. And if all goes well, it could serve as a model for the survival of high-end restaurants in the coming months of the pandemic. Stone says he’s already explored other drive-in possibilities. The Grove, an upscale shopping complex in Los Angeles, recently had a drive-through for 120 cars, which Stone’s team helped answer. He believes there is more to come. “Doing it from a gastronomic point of view is a challenge, but it allows you to be creative,” says Stone. “And it’s such a gift to be able to create right now.”

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