“During the height of the pandemic, I did 75 percent of my sales through delivery,” said Alex Foulkes, the co-owner of Penny Lane Pub in Old Saybrook. “Going into this fall, I think restaurants that have a good delivery presence will make it and those that don’t, won’t. You’re going to see a lot of die off, unfortunately.”
As dining moves indoors with the cooler weather, Foulkes says he hopes that his other venture, Shoreline Menus, can help local restaurants and main streets survive.
Launched less than two years ago as an alternative to GrubHub and DoorDash, Shoreline Menus offers a common platform for the region’s businesses to offer online ordering and a pool of delivery drivers.
Partnering businesses also receive a share of the profits and equity in Shoreline Menus.
Between March and May, Foulkes said that Shoreline Menus experienced a week-to-week 100 percent increase in sales, offering families more than pizza delivery.
“We were getting traction, but COVID increased our projections by more than 6 months. This is part of a nationwide — even worldwide — mentality switch,” said Foulkes. “COVID-19 has just gotten people more comfortable with ordering and delivery.”
Through Shoreline Menus customers can connect directly to participating restaurants where they are able to order from an up-to-date menu including specials. Deliveries are offered for customers within an 18-minute radius of the restaurant.
Since March, Shoreline Menus has grown from 15 to 45 partner restaurants and businesses today across Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Essex, Clinton, Brandford and Guilford.
“People have really enjoyed being able to get the food they really love from the restaurants they really love at home,” said Lauren Ashe, the director of partnership development for Shoreline Menus.
Even with restaurants permitted to seat customers indoors and outdoors, the number of delivery sales for participating restaurants has not declined.
“I don’t think delivery is going away, the precedent is now there and people are getting used to it,” Foulkes said.
“This fall, spring, winter are going to be hard. There is a huge concern about it among owners,” Foulkes said. “I feel so much more comfortable knowing that I have a good delivery presence.”
Over the next year, Ashe said that Shoreline Menus hopes to expand east through East Lyme, Groton, New London and Stonington.