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Local Restaurants Become Makeshift Grocery Stores to Stay Afloat

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Restaurants are changing the way they do business. You’d be hard-pressed to find a restaurant not offering up takeout or curbside delivery only. Sitting down to eat somewhere has become a thing of the past, at least for now.

While some operations are shuttering, wondering how they will ride out this wave, some restaurants are paving a new business path while also doing some good for the community.

The idea? To transform their dine-in businesses into working, small-scale grocery stores.

Some restaurant chains, like Lazy Dog in Mission Valley, have jumped on the bandwagon, now offering up an essential pack for purchase which includes desperately needed items like milk, butter, rice, and eggs, rather than a menu of dinner options designed only for single sittings only.

Another San Diego restaurant is also serving up larger portions than it’s accustomed to. Eclipse Chocolate has now segued into the grocer’s business.

The business says Easter Sunday is typically its second-biggest brunch of the year, but this year they’ve pivoted into a business where they are serving up the ingredients rather than finalized dishes.

“Starting on the second day, I drastically started ordering things I would have never considered ordering," said Will Gustwiller, Executive Chief for Eclipse Chocolate. "More domestic-oriented staples that people just couldn't find."

Gustwiller was able to tap into a supply chain relatively untouched by COVID-19, requesting huge quantities his vendors had never seen him order before.

However, he says now it’s been harder to get those items delivered as quickly as when he first upstarted the business project.

He says he experiences times when supplies are running low but restocks come the beginning of the week as those deliveries start to trickle in.

And as for the restaurant’s chocolate, no need to fret there. It still remains a fixed item on the menu.

"It’s nice to see (customers) add chocolate to the order. Everyone still needs that pick me up," Guswiller added.

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