I'm sure you've noticed that I haven't published a post for a while. Like many of you, when it comes to "dining out," we've been somewhat hunkered down and generally relying on takeout food when we need a break from cooking. We were able to venture out a bit to restaurants we trusted -- and that had gluten free offerings -- back in the summer and early Fall. I knew it would be tough after the Holidays...with cold weather setting in and outdoor dining more challenging.
But, being hell-bent on supporting our favorite restaurants despite the cold, I took the lead from some others in my neighborhood and am starting to organize deliveries from restaurants to a central location within our neighborhood. People place their orders ahead of time for a specific date that I schedule with the restaurant, and the restaurant sends a truck (or even just a delivery driver in a regular car) with all the orders. It's a win-win, since I reach out to restaurants that are a bit further beyond the radius where our neighbors would typically drive to pick up takeout. So we all get convenient delivery of something special, while the restaurants pick up some nice extra business.
Of course, I want to prioritize helping restaurants that offer safe, gluten free options, so I started with Not Your Average Joe's. We got a beautiful Thanksgiving spread from them and were anxious to get takeout food from their regular menu. They have some really fun appetizers, and as the name suggests, nothing is "average!" But rather than place an order just for our family, I reached out to the manager of the location closest to us (Reston, Virginia) and asked if they would consider doing a delivery to our neighborhood. We arranged it for a Tuesday, one of their slower nights, and Not Your Average Joe's ended up getting 12 orders from our neighborhood -- and they were all relatively large family orders. So it definitely made it worth the trip for them.
Next up for me is Mission BBQ, a chain with locations in 16 states. All their meats, almost all their sauces, and most of their sides are gluten free. I'm planning to schedule two restaurants each month until at least the spring when better weather should allow us to dine safely outside at many of these places again.
So if you're looking for a way to offer not just YOUR support -- but the compounded support of your neighborhood -- why not reach out to a restaurant that people really like...but may not typically make the drive to? Most restaurants will probably be thrilled to work with you to provide simple ordering instructions, whether online or via phone. It takes a bit of coordination, but it's well worth it. Of course, this works best if you're in a neighborhood that has a Facebook page or some other way of publicizing the event. I promoted it on my own personal Facebook page as well as some other local community ones.
Feel free to share any comments below about any other ways you've found to support your favorite gluten free friendly restaurants right now....
Photos courtesy of Not Your Average Joe's