Out of box thinking can save your business

In this once-in-a-generation occurrence of a massive pandemic, businesses around the world were forced to shutter their doors in a desperate attempt to curb infection.

Eric Schwartz models car hop tray
Get the Burger owner Eric Schwartz models the car hop tray

However, stopping contagion doesn’t pay the rent, electricity, or more important: employees and venders. And in the wake of seeing their front doors virtually nailed shut, business owners desperately seek the panaceas that will save the business into which they’ve poured their money, hearts & souls. Many may never find that solution and countless entrepreneurs have already closed their doors forever due to a complication for which no one could ever have planned.

Here in our Big Bear Valley business community, among the hardest hit are those in the lodging and food service industries. While lodges, vacation rentals and Air B&Bs continue to remain closed, valley restaurants are allowed to serve takeout or delivery. The question is: can what used to be a small portion of most restaurateur business be used to be sustain the restaurants until they can once again open the front doors?

Each restaurant is faced with its own set of challenges: can we deliver; can we do enough takeout; how do we attract enough customers until the restrictions are lifted, and even then, with social distancing, will we be able to keep going?

The answer is creative thinking, or as many terms it, “thinking outside the box.”

Owners Lynn and Eric Schwartz of Get the Burger did just that. They looked at their brand: a hamburger restaurant modeled almost completely in the mode of a 1950s malt shop like we all saw for years on the television show “Happy Days.” They started doing takeout and that simply wasn’t brining in enough dollars.

Then the out-of-the-box thinking kicked in with the realization that 1950s malt shops all had car hops walking or roller skating in the parking lots hanging trays on customer’s windows. The couple immediately began a search to find the window trays and made an order.

It’s been a couple of weeks now and the idea has come to fruition. The restaurant is now serving take out or service right to your vehicle. You drive up, someone comes to your vehicle, you stay in that vehicle and maintain your social distancing, and they take your order and serve you from the mini-table that hangs from your vehicle window. Customers are never in danger of infection.

This is the type of creative thinking that can help us all get through these troubled times. The restrictions will be lifted soon, but conditions will not return to normal. Restaurants will have to remove tables and open up social distances and more.

New ideas and routines will be our saviors in this new world.