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Manhattan Beach Restaurants Innovate to Serve

Mar 19, 2020 11:20AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

The pop-up grocery store at Fishbar - photo via Fishbar Instagram

The COVID-19 coronavirus crisis has dealt a heavy blow to Manhattan Beach restaurants, with the city now formally banning eat-in dining during the current state of emergency. That said, local restaurants are finding new ways to serve customers and meet their needs during this unprecedented state of upheaval.

Primarily, many restaurants have adjusted to the new restrictions by shifting to takeout orders. To help patrons know when and where to order, the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce has compiled a handy list called "Meals 2 Go MB" that lists all restaurants offering takeout and curbside service, and their respective hours of service.

A 'Concierge Grocery'

In addition to takeout orders, some restaurants have added grocery services. Fishbar, for example, has created a "Pop-Up Market" through which customers can call to order a variety of grocery items, including milk, cheese, and eggs; dried pasta and beans; fresh produce; and fresh and frozen seafood and meat. 

"It's almost like a concierge grocery at this point," said Fishbar executive chef and director of operations Jessica Jordan. "I have a list now where I am taking requests from the community if they can’t find it in the stores."

For example, she said, one customer mentioned not being able to find garlic anywhere - so she started selling little cups of pre-peeled garlic.

Jordan also noted that the response has been strong, in part because of the "insane" lines that customers have encountered in regular grocery stores. Her motivation, she said, is "being able to ease that congestion - and keep as much of our staff as possible employed."

Similarly, Love & Salt has branched out to offer items such as an organic farmers market produce box, pantry essentials, cook at-home pasta kits, at-home dinner packages, and even toilet paper - all available for order on their website.

"The inspiration behind selling grocery items is to support and service the community, while reducing some of the day-to-day tension we are feeling these days," said Love & Salt owner Sylvie Gabriele.

The Chef David LeFevre-helmed trio of MB Post, Fishing With Dynamite, and The Arthur J have consolidated into a takeout operation at The Arthur J. In addition to a takeout menu, The Arthur J is featuring a butcher shop service for raw cuts, from noon to 8:00 p.m. daily.

Giving Back

Other restaurants are seeking to give back to the community. Tin Roof Bistro and Simmzy's, both owned by the Simms Restaurant Group, are featuring "Buy One, Give One Take Out Meals." 
For each meal you buy, the restaurant will donate a second meal for you to give to a community member in need. Alternatively, you can choose to "pay it forward" and the restaurant will donate the meal to a future guest in need.

"The inspiration comes from Mike's [Simms] grandfather, Arthur J, who was raised in the depression and went into the restaurant business so he could always put food on the table," said Christina Gilmour of the Simms Restaurant Group. "Although our group has had to take the heartbreaking step of temporarily closing restaurants and laying off employees, Mike Simms and Chef David [LeFevre] are working to make sure members of our restaurant and local communities still have food on the table."

Another effort involves mobilizing community members to donate meals through Downtown Manhattan Beach restaurants. The "MB Feeds The Heroes" project is accepting donations, with which the Downtown Manhattan Beach Business and Professionals Association is ordering meals from downtown restaurants and donating those meals to front-line workers at local hospitals.

The The Local Yolk (through its parent company, Turner Restaurants) has also made it possible to make a direct donation of a meal to local emergency room staff.

Additional Resources

The Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce is offering resources to those businesses that been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The Chamber has compiled a complete list of local and national contacts, COVID-19 resources, and information on business loan options here.

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