If you’re eating food bought at a drive-thru, chances are it’s not the finest cuisine.
But now, a new drive-thru dining experience in Los Angeles is replacing the standard fast food fare with a menu featuring truffles, lamb ribs, and petit fours — all in an effort to help fine dining chefs in the restaurant industry survive the pandemic.
Restaurant Industry In Peril
The pandemic has absolutely decimated the restaurant industry — in just three months, it lost more than $120 billion in sales, and that figure is expected to double by the end of 2020.
But that transition can prove particularly difficult for fine-dining restaurants given that they often serve far more complex meals than what you might get elsewhere.
“In normal days, when people say ‘Can I get a lamb to-go, or an octopus to-go,’ we say no, because it just doesn’t travel well,” Mourad Lahlou, the chef and owner of Mourad, a Michelin-starred restaurant in San Francisco, told Eater in March.
Mourad is now serving take-out in response to the pandemic, but only after Lahlou adjusted the menu to include more travel-friendly options.
Pivoting to takeout isn’t a viable option for everyone in the restaurant industry, though — Los Angeles chef Mei Lin told Fast Company that the transition wouldn’t have been economically feasible for her restaurant, Nightshade, so she had to close it instead.
But now, the newly announced Resy Drive-Thru is giving Lin and nine other LA chefs a new way to make money during the pandemic.
The Resy Drive-Thru
For two nights in October, each of the chefs will set up a food station in the parking lot of the Hollywood Palladium music venue. Event attendees will then drive from one station to the next, enjoying a single course at each without ever leaving their vehicle.
All of the food will be served in single-use containers, and a designated waiter will walk alongside each car, guiding customers’ culinary journey (after passing a COVID-19 test and temperature screening, of course).
Tickets for the Resy Drive-Thru are $95 per person, with up to four people allowed in each vehicle.
We haven’t had a chance to make food like this in awhile.
If the event is a success, it could be replicated elsewhere, providing those in the restaurant industry with a much-needed new revenue stream during the pandemic.
“This could be done in any city,” Lin said. “It would require organization and logistics, but it’s possible.”
Even if it turns out to be a one-off event, though, the chefs involved appear excited to once again serve diners the kind of food they love to make — even if only for a couple of nights.
“For those of us who work in fine dining, we’re motivated by creating dishes that transport the guest in some way,” Curtis Stone, chef-owner of two LA restaurants, Gwen and Maude, told Fast Company. “We haven’t had a chance to make food like this in awhile.”
We’d love to hear from you! If you have a comment about this article or if you have a tip for a future Freethink story, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.