Home to 20 small businesses, Optimist Hall adds curbside pickup in response to coronavirus

Home to 20 small businesses, Optimist Hall adds curbside pickup in response to coronavirus
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As restaurants are forced to close for anything other than takeout, local businesses are trying to find a way to stay afloat.

Optimist Hall announced that patrons will now be able to get curbside takeout, or delivery via GrubHub and Postmates.

Erik Johnson, co-founder of White Point Partners, which developed Optimist Hall, says they’re essentially creating a “virtual food hall” with the goal being to give consumers options while helping the food hall’s tenants “weather this storm.”

How it works: You’ll visit the Optimist Hall website and place your order directly with each individual food stall. You can input a credit card number ahead of time to pay for the food, and the site gives you an estimate on how long your order will take.

Not all of the stalls have online ordering options yet. As of Wednesday, there were 11 different vendors available to order from, including Bao & Broth, Village Juice Co., and Undercurrent Coffee. Just like when you’re dining in-person, you can place orders from as many different food stalls as you’d like. When it’s time to get the food, look for the curbside pickup area in front of Fonta Flora. Someone from Optimist Hall will greet you, radioing up to a runner who will retrieve your order.

The impact: Restaurants have been decimated by the COVID-19 outbreak, those at Optimist Hall included. Ferdian Jap, partner at Zukku Sushi, says they’ve gone from bringing in $6,700 on a Saturday to ringing up $184 in takeout orders. He says, “The expectation here is not to be profitable, but to mitigate the bleeding and to keep our employees employed.”

Todd Huber, owner of Undercurrent Coffee, echoes this sentiment saying, “The majority of our staff is hourly and lives paycheck to paycheck. The goal is to generate enough funds to cover wages. With the decline in revenue we’ve had and expect to have, that’s the best we’ll be able to do.” Huber says Undercurrent (which has temporarily closed its Plaza Midwood location due to the pandemic) has seen a 50-70 percent drop in business.

Since it’s a new service, continue to look for adjustments as they work out the kinks on Optimist Hall’s curbside takeout. Johnson says, “This is fluid. This could change in the next day or the next hour, but what we’re trying to do is to continue to provide options. People can practice social distancing but still enjoy some food, think about more pleasant times, and support these local small businesses.”

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Agenda related coronavirus coverage: current status of coronavirus in Charlotte, here’s what employers are doing, latest on school closings, restaurant impact, and grocery stores’ status.

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