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How to launch a takeaway offer

By Alice Leader contact

- Last updated on GMT

Take it away: many operators are offering takeaway food and drinks services
Take it away: many operators are offering takeaway food and drinks services

Related tags: delivery

Now pubs have been ordered to close, some sites have opted for a takeaway service for social distancing and self-isolating customers who still crave pub grub.

So if you’re sat on the fence or twiddling your thumbs, unsure of whether this is the right move for you, here is the information you need to make that decision.

One step that has been put forward to make this an easier transfer for publicans came yesterday (17 March), with the Government granting permission for pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways as part of coronavirus response.

This means planning rules will be relaxed so pubs and restaurants can operate as hot food takeaways during the coronavirus outbreak.

Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “We are committed to doing everything we can to tackle the pandemic and support people, businesses and communities through this difficult time.

“These changes will provide vital flexibility to pubs and restaurants and will ensure people are able to safely stay at home while still supporting some of the great local businesses across this country.”

Off-sales licence still needed

The measures are the latest in a series of practical steps the Government is taking to support businesses and help people who need to self-isolate, as well as vulnerable groups and older people, who have been strongly advised to avoid social contact outside their homes to prevent the spread of coronavirus.  

But there are licensing factors publicans must also take into consideration if they wish to take advantage of the offer.

Andy Grimsey, partner at licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen, said: “While the Government’s decision to relax planning laws to allow pubs and bars to act as takeaways is welcome, it doesn’t help those who want to deliver or allow takeaway alcohol who don’t have off-sales already authorised on their premises licence.

“Urgent changes to the Licensing Act are required, or to use the Chancellor’s words yesterday, a degree of ‘regulatory forbearance’ on the part of the enforcing authorities, which can only be authorised by Government.”

So while operators hope for the Government to have a more lenient and pragmatic approach for such matters, Poppleston Allen has put forward some advice to point you in the right direction.

For example, if there are conditions restricting deliveries/takeaways at your site, publicans would need discussions with the council and possibly, and application to vary conditions.

What needs to be in place

Other key considerations put forward by Poppleston Allen associate Hannah Price and solicitor Natasha Beck are:

  • Does the premises licence cover late-night refreshment?

“This is needed for food any sales of hot food and drink between 11pm to 5am.”

  • Does the current premise licence permit off-sales of alcohol?

“This is required if they want to allow alcohol in the deliveries/takeaways.”

  • How do you deal with age verification when taking orders/delivering?

“The operators will need to have robust systems in place in order to continue to age verify customers when selling alcohol.”

  • How to protect staff/customers to avoid the transmission of Covid-19 (eg, can notes be placed on the order when it is made requesting that it be left outside if someone is self-isolating)

“Ensure the delivery drivers are safe – provide them with hand sanitiser, gloves, etc.”

  • Authority/resident concerns

“Previously, the view may have been against operators carrying out delivery services due to noise issues/complaints. However, discuss with the authority and your neighbours in light of current circumstances and explain both in terms of looking after your business and customers. It may be those that wouldn’t favour delivery would now welcome it if they are in need of it.”

  • Is there a drive-through facility that can be utilised?

“Very minimal contact made this way too, order at microphone, pay on card at window, which could be on a holster outside (most are these days) and collect from a window.

  • Use of apps to pre-order at drive-through sites.

“These are readily available for some operators and could be maximised – or set up for operators not currently offering this feature.”

The idea of implementing a takeaway service at your site is not as difficult as many may expect.

Overwhelming demand

Despite all these licensing indicators put forward by Poppleston Allen, it is a service that many publicans and operators are managing and adopting across the country to help adjust to the pandemic.

The Shibden Mill Inn pub in Halifax, West Yorkshire, is one site that has taken the plunge after it initiated a poll to help spur its decision.

Owner Max Heaton said: “It’s not something we ever expected to be doing but demand has being overwhelming and we are very grateful for every order.

“We have the best regulars, they’ve supported us through many a tough time and this is no different. They appreciate what we do and we appreciate them.

“We are under no illusions this will not help us make any profit, however, it is making a noticeable dent in helping to pay wages and cover costs.”

Heaton explained the way to keep food hot during deliveries is to limit them to a two-mile radius and using insulated containers and bags.

As far as monitoring age restrictions with selling alcohol, Heaton explained staff members ask for ID on delivery.

Social distancing

Another publican with two pubs in Carlisle has also made the move, instigating a “not-for-profit” delivery service that offers popular pub meals to “those in need” during the coronavirus outbreak.

Drouth pubco managing director Dianne Irving launched the service from two of her pubs: the Howard Arms and the Crown, to help the elderly and vulnerable who are staying at home.

Dianne and her daughter, Danielle, came up with the idea after they were touched by stories they heard from their regulars of those who are social distancing.

Irving said: “We’ve all got family, elderly relatives, friends and others in at-risk groups who we know are all very worried about the coronavirus outbreak.

“[And] with all the news and advice, which is all around us every day, some of them are understandably deciding to stay at home.

“So we thought why don’t we offer a service where we produce a meal at cost – we don’t want to make any profit from this – and my daughter and I will take it round to them.”

Irving explained all her businesses have a five-star hygiene rating and confirmed all hygiene and safety precautions will be in place during deliveries to confirm they are complying with Government advice and regulations.

She continued: “We know that isolation for elderly people or vulnerable groups can cause its own problems and we hope we are helping keep that element of routine that we know our regulars really value.”

Battling the storm together

The Scottish craft Brewer BrewDog has announced the launch of ‘BrewDog Drive Thru’ via its Hop Drop App.

BrewDog boss James Watt said: “These are uncertain times. But we are committed to looking after our crew, our customers and our company.”

Customers can now click and collect beer, food and spirits from their nearest UK BrewDog Bar while the team brings it to your car.

It features bottles, cans and draft beer fills in growlers – alongside any item from that bar’s food menu, bottles of spirits and wine, Hawkes cider and glassware.

If you don’t have a car, the team will bring your order to the door of their bar so you can pick it up that way.

Watt continued: “BrewDog Drive Thru is a way in which you can keep fully stocked with the beer you love but in the best way possible.

“At the moment, the only thing we can do is batten down the hatches and get through the storm together.”

Weekly deliveries

Barsham Brewery in Norfolk is also delighted to announce it can now deliver it to those who are not able to visit their local pubs and restaurants.

Barsham Brewery head of sales Jules Knight said: “With many people unable to get to their local pub to enjoy a pint of their favourite Norfolk beer, Barsham Brewery are delighted to launch a weekly delivery service across the region for people to enjoy at home.

"We, along with so many other breweries, pubs, restaurants, cafés and other businesses within the leisure and hospitality industry has seen sales nosedive. This is an unprecedented challenge, but we are determined to muddle through the best we can. We have launched a home delivery service in order to keep supplying beer to doorsteps across the region.

"This is a time when the whole country must stick together and support one another. Cheers to everyone-we will get through this."

So while publicans may contemplate taking on such an offer, McCain Foodservice has announced a campaign to help the increasing number of pubs, bars and restaurants being forced to operate a delivery only format due to Coronavirus. The foodservice provider is offering a free advice service to help operators navigate the delivery market, which is unchartered territory for so many. 

McCain Foodservice Solutions commercial director Richard Jones said: “In these unprecedented times, it is vital we all pull together as an industry. We hope these gestures will go a small way to supporting our operator customers, and their businesses, as they switch to a delivery focused service.”

Other pubs adopting takeaways

Related topics: News, UnitedWeStand, Licensing law

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