It’s been over a year – how is that possible! – that restaurants have been subjected to closures, limitations, and constant professional evolvement in an effort to just keep their doors open and serve our communities. As everyone battles through COVID-19, we at Jersey Shore In Motion have made an effort to do our best to shine a spotlight on what we love – local restaurants and businesses.
Back in September, we checked in on Mario Magriplis of Blue Swan Diner and Charley’s Ocean Grill (Divina Hospitality Group) to see how they were transitioning, especially with the winter months looming ahead. Months later, they’re still open (with almost every employee on board) and looking towards the future with updated systems and a brand new app.
“This pandemic was very disheartening at first, but it motivated us and our teams to change our approach and rethink our business models,” said Magriplis. “We saw this misfortune as an opportunity to regroup and knew that many of the changes and practices we adopt will be necessary to survive short term, but must also continue post pandemic to thrive going forward.”
Shifting Focus in a Pandemic
“We immediately shifted our focus to elevate our takeout business and then focused on extending our in-house experience and culture directly into people’s homes. We invested heavily in online ordering and third party delivery partnerships as well as better branding, packaging, and marketing. We quickly understood that keeping our customers engaged with our brands and maintaining direct communication with them is more important than ever,” continued Magriplis.
After the initial changes, both restaurants immediately started preparing for outdoor dining, with staff and customer safety being the main priority. In house sanitation products and practices were further improved and standardized. These were applied in combination with regular professional sanitation and fumigation services to mitigate the spreading of the virus from surfaces. Then with indoor dining at the forefront, both locations installed MERV 13 grade filters that are HEPA compliant and a UV light system in all HVAC ducts and vents. These installations purify and sterilize the air in both establishments and provide superior air quality to help reduce the likelihood of airborne COVID contamination.
A New App Connnects Directly With Customers
At the heart of the pandemic, customers found themselves ordering takeout, a lot. What many people may not know is that those great services are run by big box companies that are taking a huge chunk out of our favorite local restaurants.
Magriplis noticed this and saw that not only were these companies taking a a portion of the bottom line (when there wasn’t much there to begin with), but they were also taking away their ability to connect with customers directly.
“We want to manage our relationship and communication with our customers without any intermediaries that take money out of both of our pockets,” said Magriplis who just launched a brand new App (available in the Google and Apple Appstore as Divina Hospitality) that will do just that. “Whether you’re using a phone or on the web, you can now order directly with us online and we get to give back with loyalty points and other offerings.”
For this month, the new App offers a $10 credit signup bonus and $10 credit for every $100 spent on take out or in store. Rewards can be accumulated and redeemed at either location. The App will allow customers to check the balance of their points and rewards, receive special promotions and coupons, as well as order online for takeout and delivery.
“We missed seeing and interacting with our customers on a daily basis,” said Magriplis. “If you’re in the restaurant industry, that’s what you thrive on. This new App is our way of reestablishing some of that communication and a way of giving back to our community who supported us during our most trying times.”
Scan the QR code below to download the Divina App!