“We didn’t really feel like we could do Miller Union-level food and the Emory work, so we decided to do one, and not both,” McCarthy added.
But, after the contract ran out, the restaurant went back to takeout, then reopened for limited dine-in service on June 1. With a Small Business Administration loan and Paycheck Protection Program in place, things were looking up until early July, when the summer holiday season slowed business again.
“We also had a sharp rise in cases in Georgia at the same time,” Satterfield noted. “Since then, we’ve seen a pretty sharp decline in dine-in, except on the weekends. So, we’re really pushing our takeout program now.”
Recently, Miller Union sent a survey to its customers to gauge the kind of service they wanted. As a result, the restaurant now is offering its dine-in a la carte menu for takeout seven nights a week, with curbside pickup.
There’s also a new take out option, which was conceived as a preorder family style meal for four, but can be ordered for any number for around $20-$25 per person, in multiples of two.
“We’re excited about that, just because it’s something a little different we can offer people,” Satterfield said. “And, we’re considering doing delivery, but that’s a little more complicated.”
Satterfield and McCarthy said they’re constantly brainstorming, trying to come up with new ways to create revenue for the restaurant. But, they agreed that most fine-dining restaurants are not designed for takeout. “Our food doesn’t look good in a to-go box,” McCarthy quipped.
Grilled pork chop, grits fritters and skillet trout fillet boxed for takeout from Miller Union.
CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND
Credit: Bob Townsend
Credit: Bob Townsend
“People don’t necessarily think of us as a takeout restaurant, so we’re trying to change that perception,” Satterfield said. “Maybe it’s a little more of a splurge for some people, but our family meals are really quite a bargain. We just want to be as accessible as we can, in as many ways as we know how to do.”
Beyond that, the co-owners have spent a lot of time and effort making dining at Miller Union as safe as possible, including a long list of guidelines for staff and guests, and the installation of duct-mounted commercial air cleaners that destroy pathogens.
Still, they wonder about the future.
“Our level of dining has been affected the most,” McCarthy said. “The question is, do we lose that level of sophisticated dining, period? Does it just become a dinosaur, and people just don’t do it anymore? That’s my biggest fear about this whole thing.”
“People might not realize how bad it is for restaurants, right now,” Satterfield said, “but it’s a really important time to support the restaurants that you care about. Because, if you wait, it might be too late.”
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Menu: a la carte for takeout or dine-in, with daily selections of starters, entrees and desserts, made with seasonal ingredients from local farms
What’s new: family-style takeout meal for two or more, $20-$25 per person
Alcohol: extensive wine list curated by Neal McCarthy, plus beer to go; full bar for on-site dining
What I ordered: grits fritters with country ham, pimento cheese, blueberry hot pepper jelly; trout fillet, with creamed corn, summer squash, snap beans, cherry tomato; grilled pork chop, butter bean and sweet corn succotash, and blueberries; vanilla-bourbon custard, bing cherries, cornmeal sablés. As expected, everything was good to great, reflecting the level of ingredients and cooking that Miller Union is known for.
Service options: order by phone and pay with credit card for takeout curbside pickup; reservations or walk-up for indoor or outdoor on-site dining
Safety protocols: adhering to all recommended health and safety guidelines, list of restaurant’s guidelines on website; duct-mounted commercial air cleaners
Address, phone: 999 Brady Ave. NW Atlanta; 678-733-8550
Hours: 5-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 5–10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays