Highlighting some neighborhood restaurants that are serving the community with specific questions about their new COVID-19 policies and procedures. Bistro To Go has been a long-time friend with delicious comfort foods. I noticed tat they’ve added in-house delivery to nearby communities so I asked them to give us an update.
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Your Name: Brian Larson
Your Pronouns: He/Him
Your Affiliation: Catering Director, Bistro To Go
Tell us briefly about your restaurant/business. Bistro To Go is fresh, hand-crafted and delicious food with a the mission of providing extraordinary experiences through relationships. Located in Historic Deutschtown, we have been serving and feeding the Northside and Pittsburgh area since 2007.
How many people do you employee, both FT and PT and casual? In the not so distant past, Bistro employed 45 employees with a strong mix of Full Time and Part Time employees. In the last few weeks the Bistro has made the difficult decision to reduce staffing to seven individuals that can help to maintain our café and catering business. Our staff is a diverse group of people. We are strive to be representative of the community in which we call home as it is our differences that make us stronger. “One meet one, one teach one, till we become one.” – Chef Alfredo Bistro To Go
Why did you decide to remain open during this COVID-19 pandemic? Although difficult choices had to be made, it was important that our staff could see that we were making every effort to ensure there would be a home to return to, one day. Our café provides comfort food; something that is truly needed in this uncertain time. It was paramount that not only we provide stable income for the remaining employees but that our neighborhood family could feel our love and support through food.
How have you modified your services? While our catering division was hit the hardest, seeing over 90 events cancel in one week, our café is a bright spot and safe place for many. We have modified our services by enacting a social distancing policy that allows for our customers to order via the web, request no-contact delivery free or curbside trunk delivery. Strict handwashing and glove wearing policies have always been in effect.
What sorts of prepared foods are folks looking for now? Comfort? Something new? Hard to find items such as vegan options? We have a varied menu that changes daily and we have always taken requests from our guests for the following weeks menu! We are seeing an increase in comfort foods being requested and easy to reheat items. We are now offering a package price to feed four with four portions of an entrée, four portions of two sides and cornbread.
There has been a steady rise in the request for more vegan and vegetarian options; today we have a delicious Vegan Beyond Sweet Sausage with peppers and onions! As a ‘veg-forward’ individual myself I love seeing new and creative ways to eat foods that I once enjoyed, just prepared differently!
What steps have you taken to protect your employees? We seek to love one another and in this time it couldn’t be more important. Loving someone means to do your best towards them, embrace them (socially distant of course), and show respect. We are working diligently each day to make sure that our employees are safe, supported and of course, fed. A new sign out front says, “we welcome you with open arms but please keep your distance.”
People are scared during this time- the best thing we can be strong for our families and those around us.
Do you have any anecdotes or stories from people who are ordering food? We have received a lot of love and support from the community and its always great to hear that they enjoyed our meals. Most recently the messages of support from those ordering delivery no-contact have been very comforting; we don’t get the chance to interact with them but love hearing from them through facebook or email!
If I want to order food from Bistro, please explain the process. We launched online ordering last Monday and it has really changed the dynamic around here. When the order pops through a ‘nintendo’ theme song plays to alert us and the employees all cheer and smile.
From there you will see the list of our daily features, sandwiches and salads and other items that can be ordered for ASAP or for a scheduled time.
We are currently delivering to the Northside, Downtown, Uptown, Hill District, East End, Southside, Mt Washington and some parts of Millvale, Etna and Ross Twp. We are doing our deliveries in-house and are hoping to expand further when there is a demand!
We will always accept a phone call order and can take payment over the phone. Don’t be alarmed if we change gloves directly before and after we take your form of payment; we want to keep everyone safe.
At this time we are still welcoming guests inside to order, however, all items are packed to go and our dining room and courtyard are closed to the public.
Tips are certainly welcome but not expected. Since I have been wearing many hats over the last week if I do receive a tip I have been setting them aside and using the funds to buy meals for those that cannot.
Can I order food to send to a third party such as a neighbor or family member? You certainly can and we would love to see this happen more! We are certainly willing deliver love; food delivered will always bring a smile to anyone’s face.
Are gift cards available? How can I purchase one? Gift cards are available by calling the Bistro! We will have online capability shortly!
Where do we find your current menus? Our menus are posted on Facebook, sent out in our weekly newsletter and of course, available online at Bistroandcompany.com
Where can readers find Bistro on social media (include links)?
Anything else you’d like to add? We are all in this together; it will not be an easy time. Together with love and support we can travel through our new reality and work towards our new beginning.
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