Montclair Restaurants Pause, Pivot And Reinvent In Response to COVID-19

Montclair’s food businesses — restaurants, bakeries, delis — have been able to stay open, but it’s been anything but easy, due to social distancing regulations and the need for contact-less pick up and delivery.

Many Montclair restaurants have opted to close their doors, but are still staying connected to their customer base. Some, like Fascino, closed briefly and then reopened after coming up with strategies that work in a COVID-19 world. Bivio Pizza made pizza fans very happy when they started offering pickup for their crave-worthy pies). Those who have stayed open continually since the start of social distancing have seen their businesses evolve and change in response to challenges and new regulations.

Cafe Giotto is one of a number of restaurants focusing more on comfort fare and family meals. Meny Vaknin, owner of Marcel, Luisa and MishMish, is also focusing on family-friendly meals, chose to keep MishMish open for all takeout orders.

Fine dining restaurants, such as Laboratorio Kitchen and the only recently opened Faubourg, are suddenly in the take-out business (Faubourg is also discounting wines from their cellar to sell).

Eateries, like Le French Dad and The Corner, are making it easier to have a contact-free online order, pay in advance and pick up experience.

Others are recognizing their customers’ need for more than delicious meals. Montclair Bread has been selling fruit, vegetables, dairy, eggs, flour and other staples, in addition to their delicious doughnuts and other baked goods. Sal’s Gastronomia is also selling provisions — vegetables, fruits, dairy, meats and fish — in addition to offering meals for dinner takeout. Le Salbuen has been selling meat, fish, produce and more to customers as well as family-style trays of prepared food. Owner Christina Salierno has also started a GoFundMe for her staff and their families.

Le Salbuen Cafe is now offering a wide array of items for sale in addition to takeout meals.

Jackie’s Grillette is also launching an online grocery service later this week, dubbed Jackie’s Marketplace, where you can buy fresh fruits & vegetables, milk, eggs, breads, etc. for curbside pick-up (free delivery for residents aged 60 and up).

Many restaurants, including La Rocca and Cocina Candela and Stuffed Burgers, are also using their time and talents help feed first responders and healthcare workers.

Stuffed Burger’s Dan Campeas helping get donated food to Toni’s Kitchen.

Ani Ramen went in a whole new direction. Luck Sarabhayavanija, the owner of a five popular ramen restaurants around New Jersey, first gave away thousands of ramen family meals at its Montclair, Maplewood and Jersey City locations on March 19. Since then, Sarabhayavanija, in collaboration with the Be Awesome to Somebody charity group, plans to temporarily re-open his restaurants, starting in Jersey City on April 24, with a new menu and focus. Rock City Pizza Co., a non-profit restaurant serving Detroit Style Pizza and Thai-spiced rotisserie chicken for takeout, will offer meals sold at a reduced rate and customers will be able to buy meals to donate at an additional discount.

De Novo’s Demetri Malki

Demetri Malki, owner of De Novo European Pub and a beloved presence on the Montclair restaurant scene for more than 20 years, announced on March 24 that he would donate 100 percent of all sales to make sure his employees could pay their rent, utilities, medical expenses, etc. De Novo is now delivering it full menu for pick up or delivery from Tuesday to Sunday to Montclair, Glen Ridge, West Orange, Clifton, Roseland, Verona, North Caldwell, Cedar Grove and Essex Fells. You might even get a delivery from Malki himself.

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