For delivery orders at Hungry House, Barnett includes a handwritten thank you note with every order to remind customers that there’s a human behind the food. She also emails regulars directly to thank them for their business and solicit any feedback they might have. “I’ll just be like, ‘Today, David’s going to get an email,’” Barnett says. “It’s probably kind of creepy, because I will just write, ‘I really hope you’re enjoying everything!’”
Sending a note or gifting a customer’s favorite dish requires thought and care, but such moves are also good for business. Restaurant regulars increase food sales by spreading the word, Barnett says. Since opening in summer last year, new customers reported that they’d found Hungry House via recommendations in their workplace Slack channels, friend groups, and on social media. The extra touches are also just fun for the staff, says Dunn. “That personal element was taken away from everyone who works in a restaurant” when the pandemic hit, she says, “and that’s the best part of the job.”
Customers who order food online also want to connect with their favorite restaurants. During the pandemic, Grace Clarke, a 35-year-old marketing consultant living between Paris and New York City, found herself compelled to send little poems to her favorite sushi spot whenever she ordered online. Sometimes, Clarke gave updates on her life: “I’ve been gone for months; I made your rolls for my aunt; Obv, they weren’t as good!” Other times, she’ll confess: “I’m ghosting someone; he is driving me CRAZY. I feel bad. And yet.”
While her delivery drivers have never discussed the content they find in the notes, Clarke says that’s not the point of them. “There’s this pleasant unknown,” she says….