Written by: Dan Ponton
Dan Ponton is the President and CEO of Roosters. Keep reading to get Dan’s take on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the restaurant sector and what he expects moving forward.
How did COVID impact the restaurant environment for Roosters?
Pre-COVID, our carryout sales represented on average of about 10% of our gross sales. After COVID hit, carryout sales jumped to about 50% of gross sales.
As a restaurant owner, how did you retain and value your employees in a time when the restaurant environment looked different?
System-wide we offered all 4,500 employees enhanced pay as well as weekly bonuses for all hourly employees as well as managers.
With the restrictions in place and people not going out to eat as much, what tactics did Roosters use to continue to bring in customers?
Very good question. Roosters responded extremely quickly providing barriers and such per the CDC and local Public Health Departments. I firmly believe that our loyal guests continued to support Roosters as a result of all we “give back” through our foundation. Over a million dollars a year goes to over 400 schools, churches, homeless shelters, sports teams, etc.
What does the current Roosters restaurant environment look like now? And how has that changed since the middle of the pandemic?
Roosters is currently experiencing a number of learned practices from dealing with the pandemic. For example, Roosters continues to use single-use menus, condiments by request and 70% of barriers are still in place. Roosters is also experiencing supply chain issues due to product shortages. Every month we are shorted on items that can’t be shipped due mainly to labor issues. For example, one month we might be out of mac & cheese bites, next month we are out of mozzarella sticks, etc. You’ve probably heard of the national chicken wing shortage… there is no shortage of chicken wings, only a shortage of labor to process the wings.
What is Roosters looking to do in the future to continue their success as a premier wing spot in Columbus?
First and foremost continue taking care of our 4,500 team members. If not for them Roosters would not exist. Secondly, we strive to enhance our guest service every day because at the end of the day, our guests sign our paychecks. Additionally, our foundation continues to thrive with 100% of donations going to over 400 charities. We have also started to buy locations again with the hopes that we will put COVID behind us.