How El Bosque Mexican Grill is Thinking Outside the Box to Serve their Customers During the COVID-19 Pandemic
When sudden, massive change is thrust upon us as a society, we can take two different approaches. We can shrink back, stop everything, and wait to see what happens, or we can think outside the box, keep moving, and adapt to find the opportunity. Of all the industries that are having to make huge adjustments to the way business is done, restaurants exemplify those two actions the most. With food services being deemed essential, restaurants have a unique opportunity to thrive when other businesses might take a hit. Perhaps no restaurant is demonstrating this better in Montgomery County than El Bosque Mexican Grill.
While they are pushing forward and finding new ways of serving their customers, El Bosque wasn’t immune to the initial fears and looming unknowns that this pandemic brought on. “I think any restaurant was freaking out a little bit,” says Melissa Rodriguez of El Bosque. “At first we thought, ‘what can we do to still offer our products and services to the customers?’ We had to restructure everything.” And it wasn’t just the business itself that faced uncertainty. The restaurant’s staff had to deal with the changes as well. “We had employees that were struggling with the idea of only working a few hours a week. And yet, we had others who said they were available for whatever we needed.’ Melissa adds, “We ended up working with a really small staff at each restaurant and got right to work with offering curbside pickup.” Most importantly, Melissa and the leadership team at El Bosque were quick to take the advice and input of their staff into how they changed things. After all, they are the ones who are making everything work and fulfilling the service.
Melissa is leading the charge to get all of the restaurant’s four locations moved over to this new way of doing business. “We restructured our business to include many new features to serve our customers during this time.” They have begun to utilize new ways of providing their popular Mexican cuisine to customers while strictly adhering to shelter-in-place orders. Even when everything goes back to “normal”, El Bosque is preparing for ways to continue giving their customers the best possible experience. “People are going to fear eating out, especially in large groups of people. We’re now offering online ordering at all our locations, which includes curbside pickup. We’re also giving discounts for people who order through our online ordering portal.”
Online ordering is not a new concept in the restaurant industry, but it’s alarming how many restaurants don’t have online capabilities in place. Being a local favorite, El Bosque was quick to adapt to allow their customers to order online. One of the most innovative ways they are doing this is through the development of their soon-to-be-released mobile app. “We’re looking at developing an app so people can simply order through the app and get exclusive discounts and deals.” Many large chain restaurants have mobile apps in place, but El Bosque is leading the way for local restaurants to reach their customers. This is also a way to future-proof their business is a way, as the shelter-in-place order will be lifted in measures. It will be a long time before things go back to normal
Another way they are adapting is by expanding the menu options to cater to the needs of families. “We’re also doing mini takeout menus that feed up to four people per item. These are perfect for families and events like Cinco de Mayo and birthdays. They can take these meals to go for large groups of people so they don’t have to be at the restaurant to enjoy them.” says Melissa. These menus, which feature favorites like fajitas and tacos, are available on El Bosque’s social media pages.
When dining in does become available again. El Bosque Mexican Grill is already preparing to take precautions to create a safe and welcoming environment for their guests. Melissa explains how they are thinking about the customer and their experience, “What can we do in house as far as dine-in customers? What can we do for those customers who don’t want to dine in yet?” They are preparing to set up their restaurant to encourage social distancing and make everyone feel safe and comfortable.
One of the most inspiring ways that El Bosque Mexican Grill has adapted is by finding ways to serve the community. When this started happening, Melissa contacted Mayor Powell of Conroe to offer their services to help in any way. They began to serve meals for police departments and public works offices. Our first responders and government employees are working hard to get through this, and they face a lot of pressure and criticism to make the right choices. Providing food is just one way to show support, and it’s what El Bosque Mexican Grill does best.
The lesson in all of this is simple, and it doesn’t just apply to restaurants: There is an opportunity hidden in every problem. Instead of closing up shop and waiting it out, hoping your business survives, find a way to adapt. Think outside of the box and move forward, trying out new things and new ways of doing business. If your business doesn’t utilize its website or online presence, find a way to “open up shop” online. Your customers haven’t left, they’re just spending their time online right now. Follow El Bosque’s lead and reach your customers where they are.
To order online from El Bosque Mexican Grill, just head over to their website at elbosquemexicangrill.com or call to order in Montgomery at (936) 597-6997.