Ever wish Daniel Gursha, who has cooked at some of the best restaurants in the world, would make dinner for your family? With COVID-19 shutting all restaurant dining rooms tight, Gursha, the executive chef at Ledger Restaurant & Bar in Salem, is joining many area chefs in polishing their takout games to feed loyal patrons at home.
Check social media or call ahead, as the situation is changing rapidly everywhere—many restaurants, like the Bancroft group in Peabody and Burlington, Ceia and Brine in Newburyport, and Davio’s in Lynnfield, have decided to shutter for the time being, while other places like Bambolina in Salem are doing takeout, for now.
“We are opening the next few days from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for takeout and delivery and will assess the subsequent days as they come,” says Bambolina co-owner Larry Leibowitz. “Not sure if this is a viable business model and waiting to see how the sales are as part of the analysis in decision making.”
With an awareness of both his employees and a community that still needs to eat, Matt O’Neill, owner of Ledger, has gone all in with takeout. Currently, the robust menu will include a daily selection of prepared foods, plus “Ledger Basket” starting Thursday, giving families the tools to put together their own meals from a round-up of prepared foods like grain salads, roasted vegetable salads, and potatoes, and raw cuts of meats, poultry, fish.
“We will also stock pantry items (rices, grains, Ledger pickles, veggie and chicken stocks and broths) and fresh pastas with bolognese and marinara to take home,” O’Neill says. “I want to make it family friendly and affordable. I don’t want to gouge anybody at this point. I think it’s really important to offer relief.”
“Small margins in this industry make it difficult for restaurants to endure any type of severe downtime,” O’Neill says. “Takeout or delivery helps for some cash flow. We have a large staff, so it’s more concerning to me to keep everyone working because on the other side you want to come out ready to recover.”
For St. Patrick’s Day, curbside pick-up of corned beef with cabbage, potatoes, and a green salad is available for $15 per person, along with a variety of fish and pasta options. Follow Ledger on social media @ledgersalem on Instagram and @ledgerrestaurant on Facebook for updated menus. The restaurant is also ramping up on Door Dash and Uber Eats starting at the end of the week.
Methuen’s The Irish Cottage will also be offering takeout. They serve up traditional Irish fare, including cottage pie, bangers and mashed, and Guinness beef stew. Their extensive menu also offers other homestyle meals like New England favorites baked haddock and meatloaf, or more colorful dishes like pineapple teriyaki stir-fry.
At Metzy’s Cantina in Newburyport, takeout and delivery is nothing new, but their no-touch option ensures that people can still enjoy Chef Chris Lee’s whole menu while respecting health guidelines from the state.
“Our current plan is to stay open our regular hours, and offer delivery whenever we are open,” Owner Erik Metzdorf says. “Open hours may have to be adjusted, based upon reality as we move along…but so long as we are open, we are offering our full menu.”
Metzdorf feels like the North Shore community is already pulling together, and hopes to do his small part. “This is going to be hard. For everyone,” he says. “We can only get through such trying times by working together and helping each other in any and all ways possible. I wish I had more answers. We are going to struggle here, for sure.”
Although you’re not getting the dine-in experience, remember that restaurant owners are trying to pay as many people as they can for as long as they can, and can use everyone’s help, Metzdorf adds. “Please keep in mind just how hard this whole thing is hitting everyone,” Metzdorf says. “If you have the means, please consider tipping generously when you order, and keep in mind how much such generosity is appreciated.”