Local eateries find unique ways to stay afloat, serve

Farragut restaurants and other businesses are serving up solutions to take care of their customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

They are responding with everything from curbside and drive-through to delivery services so they provide for customers and keep their doors open, with Visit Farragut, Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce and Shop Farragut encouraging the community to continue supporting their local businesses by using those new services. 

“Let’s show support for our local restaurants and businesses in this time of uncertainty,” Visit Farragut Tourism director Karen Tindal said. “They are being mindful of the CDC guidelines and are utilizing on-line ordering, curbside pick-up and delivery services.”

“We’ve taken just about every precaution,” Clean Eatz general manager Zach Sattler said Thursday, March 19. “The first thing we did is order extra sanitizing stations and have an immediate station at the front door when you walk in.

“We did that about a week and a half ago.”

The restaurant, located at 155 West End Ave. in West End Center, already offered on-line ordering, so “that cuts down for social distancing,” he said. “People can come in, get their meals fully prepared in under three minutes.

“That’s a huge upside we’ve been able to offer,” Sattler added.

On March 18, Clean Eatz “went ahead and cut out our dine-in service, so now we are take-out and carry-out only,” he said.

“Lastly, we cut down on our staffing to running the restaurant with four- to five-man teams, so we run into the same people pretty much every day,” Sattler added. “That eliminates a lot of variables when you work with the same small groups day after day.

“Those things have allowed us to stay open so far,” Sattler said. “We’ve been pretty successful doing it for the most part.

Looking ahead, “We have been working on a menu we are working on launching where you will be able to order meals, grab-and-gos, online, and instead of coming into the store, and we’re talking about doing curbside pick-up.”

For the first week, Sattler said Clean Eats experienced a huge spike in its pre-cooked, prepackaged meals sales with “people stocking up and having meals delivered to them.”

Over the past 48 hours on Thursday, “we started to see more of a decline in foot traffic,” he added. “People are starting to self-quarantine.”

However, “for the most part we’ve been able to keep doors open and still do decent as far as our sales,” Sattler said.

The Shrimp Dock, with locations at 11124 Kingston Pike in Farragut, 5210 Kingston Pike in Bearden and in 321 Calderwood St. in Alcoa, is offering curbside service.

“If you call us and order it, we will bring it out to your car,” owner Phil Dangel said.

And while his suppliers are increasing prices on fresh seafood, “we are not raising our prices,” he said. “We’re going to continue to bring in fresh fish, cook for you if you want and we’ll bring it out to your car with take-out service.

Dangel said “the restaurant business has slowed down dramatically.”

However, “The over-the-counter has increased,” he added.

“We’ve also seen people buying bigger amounts of fish. They might buy four pieces of salmon — two for tonight and two for four or five days from now — and ask us if they can freeze it so they don’t have to go outside.”

But Dangel tells customers, “We’re here for you.

“If you really need it delivered to your house, call us,” he added. “We will make arrangements to get this (fish) to your house.”

The Shrimp Dock has Bite Squad for deliveries and Door Dash.

While some scrambled to stay open, others decided to close.

“I have seen and heard of businesses closing,” Julie Blaylock, Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce CEO/president, said Friday, March 20. “And I’ve certainly visited with and heard from businesses in the process of debating closing.

“It’s a question of ‘how much revenue can you afford to lose?’” she added. “There are some businesses who are losing thousands of dollars of revenue.

“They closed out of concern for health and out of respect to the community, but they are losing revenue every week that they are closed. And then there are some who are trying to stay open and are losing revenue by staying open.

Out of necessity, “Businesses are trying really hard to be innovative with their services, and in a lot of ways it’s just almost too early to tell what the impact is going to be,” she said.

Tuesday, March 20, Knox County Health Department Senior director Dr. Martha Buchanan issued a health directive (see page 5A), while Gov. Bill Lee issued an executive order later in that day (see page 4A), which included mandating all restuarants either close or only provide take-out, delivery and drive-through services.

Lee also provided an update to a March 19 press release, stating he submitted a request to the Small Business Administration to “pursue statewide relief opportunities for Tennessee small businesses.”

If approved, it would allow businesses suffering economic injury as a result of COVID-19 be eligible to apply for disaster loan assistance of up to $2 million per applicant, according to the release.