With kids and parents alike home from school and work, food businesses pivoted to large meal orders

Supplying meals for the family table has been the focus of culinary entrepreneurs Joan Chastain and Shannon Countryman for the last eight years. Their Ingle Eats online meal service provides prepared foods and DIY kits for pickup or delivery.

“We’ve always been about giving our customers a needed night off, or something new to eat if they’ve lost interest in cooking,” Countryman says. “We do a lot of comfort food, as well as dishes inspired by what we read or where we go.”

The coronavirus lock-in saw Ingle Eats retooling operations to accommodate more orders from supermarket-shy residents, while also making sure the staff had plenty of distance in the kitchen to create those orders. The outfit began offering daily pick-up and delivery, which formerly had taken place just weekly.

Ingle Eats

“This allowed us to spread out production so that people could work safely in the kitchen, and our customers could get what they needed more frequently,” Chastain says.

No surprise, patrons have been interested in comfort food, including homemade biscuit crust chicken pot pie and meat loaf. A new fleet of DIY cocktail mixer kits, such as a tart and fruity spin on the Paloma, haven’t hurt either.

Elsewhere, restaurants have recognized the need to create to-go items geared toward family dining. Mansurs on the Boulevard might be better known for high-end celebratory meals. But like other restaurants, it quickly redefined itself as a to-go vendor—at least temporarily.

“We thought about just closing for a while, but we wanted to be here,” says Executive Chef Chris Motto. “The situation is just heartbreaking. We’ve had some success, but nothing wild.”

Rather than feature Mansurs’ entire menu, Motto pared it down to several popular options, including crab and brie soup, cedar plank redfish, Duck Mansur and two sizes of filets. He also created several “family pans,” aimed at patrons with a houseful of hungry people. Big hits have been a new seafood lasagna and the char-grilled oyster bake, a riff on the signature chargrilled oysters on the half-shell. Motto has also been making classic south Louisiana comfort foods like jambalaya, gumbo, fried shrimp and catfish.

“We wanted to do things that would feed a group, including things you could eat later or put in the freezer,” Motto says.

And with pickup orders able to include alcohol, customers could even buy wines from the restaurant’s ample wine list.

This article was originally published as part of the ‘Restaurants fight to survive’ cover story in the May 2020 issue of 225 Magazine.