Covid Catering

Appears in the August 2020 issue.

Interviews by Kathy Aabram

Dining in Illinois has changed dramatically over the last four months. Local restaurants have risen to the challenge and along the way have learned new valuable lessons. Naperville interviewed Brian Goewey, owner chef/restauranteur of BG Hospitality Group (Gia Mia, Livia Italian Eatery) and Tim McEnery, founder and CEO of Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, to see how they are faring.

What has surprised you about doing business during the shutdown? What lessons have you learned?

BG We have become even more aware of how what we do operationally affects our guests and communities. Our employees and guests are our No. 1 asset and we are grateful for their flexibility. Without them, we would not be where we are today.

CH We were humbled by the enthusiasm and patience of our guests and staff during such a trying time. All were extremely cooperative with reopening measures and very encouraging when we started delivery and curbside pickup.

Has there been any upside to the shutdown?

BG We have partnered with several delivery services, implemented online ordering, and tested several different types of to-go packaging in order to still provide excellent food quality and service, albeit from a social distance.

CH Before the shutdown, we weren’t offering curbside or delivery. And now, it’s likely that both will be added permanently. This addition has added a convenience to guests and wine club members.

How have you changed your menu to accommodate carryout and delivery orders? Are you still working with a modified menu during the reopening?

BG The leadership team reviews menus regularly. We have modified the takeout menu to only include items that will travel well so we can maintain the integrity of the food. We also offer family-style menus that are economically priced for families going through financial uncertainties, and offer many different choices within these packages.

CH We’ve taken some of the biggest crowd favorites and added them to the patio, inside, curbside, and delivery menus. This has helped ensure guest satisfaction and alleviates some of the pressure on the kitchen, while staff slowly returns.

Photo Courtesy Cooper’s Hawk