Food in the Time of Corona

Cover photo by Meka Wilson.

Best practices for takeout and delivery services

Let’s face it.

No matter how much stocking up we do at the grocery store, or how many recipes we have pinned, we just aren’t built to cook for ourselves three times a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We need restaurants, and they need us too.

Mayor Strickland’s Safer at Home Executive Order allows for both takeout and delivery of food.

For those of you with questions about the safety of takeout and delivery, I give you these guidelines, from the North Carolina State Extension office, based on information and studies provided by the CDC, FDA, and USDA.

And don’t miss Food Safety and Coronavirus: A Comprehensive Guide from Serious Eats.

Our guide is based on current information that says takeout and delivery are safe.

Let’s start with some good news.

Slider Inn


Joe’s Wines & Liquor


Governor Lee issued Executive Order No. 17 that is in effect until April 6, 2020, and permits restaurants and bars to sell alcohol to go (takeout or delivery).

We wasted no time getting a couple of Jameson Slushies to go from Slider Inn.

There are a few conditions, which you can see in full in the above link, but, basically, you’ll need to order food also, the drink must be sealed, and bottles of beer and wine are included—but not bottles of spirits.

Look for the restaurants already known for their bar programs to find ways to amp up alcohol sales in order to increase revenue in these disastrous times.

Likewise, most breweries had already started offering curbside service in the last several days, and some are now adding delivery service. (We see you, Wiseacre and Crosstown!)

And—in case you haven’t already figured this out for yourself—liquor stores are stocked and ready to serve you curbside. Joe’s and Buster’s in particular also stock local snacks, like Tom’s Tiny Kitchen pimento cheese and cheese dip, Las Delicias chips and salsa, etc.

Lucky Cat

Lucky Cat


Our Local Takeout & Delivery Guide is being constantly updated..

These are some best practices to consider for takeout.

Best practices for businesses:

Looking like you are open. Open the front door. Raise the windows. Hang up a handmade sign (even if it looks tacky). Enough people are walking and driving around to warrant making the outside of your business look welcoming or at least send a “We are open!” message.

Updating your website with current information. Post on social media every day, or even several times a day. Let customers know about specials, show them delicious things to order, and keep yourself on their radar day after day. (Tag @ediblememphis and we will share!)

Touchless processes, like online or mobile ordering and curbside delivery.

Reusable or compostable packaging. Times are tough, but they may be tough for a while, so let’s keep this standard.

Limited to-go napkins, utensils, and condiments. We all are eating at home and have these things.

Family meals. Many restaurants, even fine-dining establishments, are reworking their menus to lend themselves to takeout and delivery. This is easier on restaurant staff and is a great deal for customers. (If you’re a customer, be sure to double-check websites and social media to see what is being offered. You may be surprised. And, yes, we have a freezer full of Andrew Michael’s famous Maw Maw’s gravy now.)

“Take and bake” and vacuum seals. These are great stock-the-fridge-and-freezer options and can yield higher quality meals.

Best practices for customers:

If a phone call is required, take it as an opportunity to share a kind word. Be patient, as you may need to call several times to get through. Most restaurants are operating with a skeleton staff. Have your credit card information ready, and know your order.

If signing a credit card slip is required, give the restaurant permission to sign on your behalf, or bring your own pen and wipes.

Check your order before leaving.

Wash your hands after handling to-go containers, and replate your food at home.

Tip generously. We recommend 30 percent.


Sunrise Memphis



Look to see if the restaurant offers in-house delivery. UberEats and the like often take up to 30 percent of sales. Many restaurants have added in-house delivery to increase profit margins. If they haven’t, then ask if they have a preferred delivery service.

Give the driver some landmarks or other identifying information to make the delivery process as smooth as possible. Many of them are new at this!

If possible, ask the delivery person to step back from the door, or just to drop it and go. If you plan to have food delivered regularly, place a tote outside with a sign.

Be patient and know that wait times will be longer than in the land before COVID-19.

Just as is suggested with to-go food, wash your hands after handling outside containers and replate your food before eating.

Again, tip generously. We recommend 30 percent.

Rose Creek Farms

Home Place Pastures

Farm to Door

Keep in mind that farmers are also delivering! Rose Creek Farms produce and Home Place Pastures meat can be ordered online and delivered directly to your door with no human contact. (Tubby Creek Farm just launched an online store for orders that can be delivered on Saturdays at the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market.) Green Girl Produce and AOV Urban Farm have also started a home delivery service.

Miles Tamboli of Tamboli’s Pasta & Pizza recently launched Tamboli’s Mobile Deli. In addition to all-day pizzas and dinner specials, he will deliver produce and meat from the farmers who supply the restaurant, as well as pantry items from local makers. Even better, 10 percent of profits from Tamboli’s Mobile Deli will be directly donated to the Mid-South Food Bank to assist their efforts in feeding Memphis families. Order online or call 901.410.8866.

Bring It Food Hub which aggregates products from several local farmers and makers is also offering delivery in addition to local pick up.

Two Broke Bartenders and a Truck

All That and More

Two Broke Bartenders and a Truck is a new essential service staffed by displaced bartenders and musicians. They will use their truck to pick up and deliver basically anything you could ever want or need. They’ll also mow the lawn, complete emergency handyman projects, give remote computer help—whatever needs doing.