Many restaurants in metro Atlanta saw sales plummet even before government restrictions barred in-restaurant dining and allowed only takeout, delivery and pickup. Some restaurants have temporarily closed and nationally there are projections that tens of thousands could be shuttered permanently depending on how long the pandemic lasts.
Friedman’s company hasn’t been immune to the pain. The business includes three WZ Taverns, which relied primarily on sit-down patrons. Take-out orders have increased for the WZ restaurants, he said, but their overall sales are still half what they were a year ago. Some takeout-focused Wing Zones in college towns where campuses have closed also have seen dips, even as others have not, he said.
Overall, Friedman said Wing Zones are hiring more delivery drivers, particularly former Uber and Lyft drivers who have seen rides dip in recent weeks. Wing Zone has stopped accepting cash payments from customers for deliveries, required drivers to wear fresh gloves for each drop-off and promoted “contact-less delivery” as well as curbside pickup to reassure customers.
“I think trust is the most important thing right now,” Friedman said.