SC Biz News is speaking with small businesses and community leaders about the impact of the new coronavirus on business and industry, and how this is changing how they operate.
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As the new coronavirus began to spread throughout the Lowcountry, Mex 1 Coastal Cantina had to adapt as quickly as possible.
The Lowcountry chain has restaurants in West Ashley and Mount Pleasant and on Sullivan’s Island.
The restaurant had long had the capability to do online ordering but had never implemented it. So that was one of the first things leaders at Mex 1 did during the outbreak.
Morgan Hurley, the restaurant’s beverage director, said it would normally take a couple weeks to put online ordering in place for three different locations. But they were able to pull it off in 36 hours.
Through the online ordering option, people can order and pay for meals and schedule the time they want to pick it up. Hurley said about 60% of the restaurant’s business now comes through online ordering.
Mex 1 has also gotten creative with its menu offerings. The restaurant is now selling margarita mixes, something they never advertised before.
“So we very quickly ordered half-gallon containers and started fractioning it out in quantities to offer for sale,” Hurley said. “And then, you know we can’t sell liquor, but we can sell beer and wine to go.”
Hurley said Mex 1 brought in 12-ounce containers to be able to sell its frose and came up with a recipe to make frozen sangria, as well. Both of these drinks are now available for pickup, and Hurley said customers love it.
Mex 1 is donating $1 from every drink sold to its Mex 1 Love crew fund, which is helping its staff through the coronavirus.
A family meal option that feeds four to six people is another new feature at the restaurant.
“I think I speak for everybody — we all miss the experience of gathering in a restaurant and hanging out with friends and family and just being out with a group of people. And that’s what restaurants exist for,” Hurley said. “And right now, that’s considered a risk. So, you know, we still want to deliver that experience to our guests.”
Nowadays, when customers walk up to get their to-go orders, Mex 1 has music and surf videos playing in the background, so that the normal dining experience can still be felt, even for a short time.
Once the pandemic is over, Hurley said Mex 1 will continue with its new offerings.
“We’re just going to keep improving our processes,” Hurley said. “And from a business perspective, we hope to come out of this with some additional revenue streams that is new for Mex 1 as a whole. So hopefully it’ll make us come out healthier as a business.”l