COVID-19 forced restaurants to rethink how they did business. Here's how one did.

March 2020 was a memorable month for every restaurant. Social distancing measures, along with shutdowns, aimed to slow the spread of COVID-19 forced a lot of eateries to fundamentally rethink their business models and how they interacted with customers. While these new rules posed profound challenges for a lot of places, they also offered unique opportunities.

Throughout the spring, we've seen uplifting stories about both local restaurants and the diners that support them. One such restaurant was Crush Pizza + Tap in Denver, which found ways to ensure that its unique passion for pizza outshone its difficulties.

Crush Pizza + Tap opened in 2012 as the brainchild of Jason McGovern. Since then, their pizzas have racked up plenty of awards, including recognition in Westword for "Best Thick Crust Pizza" in 2016, 2017, and 2019. McGovern is a vibrant personality around the pizzeria, using it as a chance to both chat with guests and whip up some of his more unique pizza ideas, such as the zesty Lemon Ricotta pizza. When restaurant services were suspended in March, he was quick to act.

Crush Pizza founder Jason McGovern doing what he does best. 

They started offering Crush Care Packs, menu specials that offered their signature pizzas and wings, and the bartender's choice of canned beers. These care packs were an immediate hit; customers appreciated having family meal nights rolled into a single menu item. Additionally, the popularity of these packs let Crush Pizza stay proactive about their supply of ingredients. Shakeups to the restaurant model meant that places weren't guaranteed the same volume of orders that they had before. 

Additionally, Crush Pizza + Tap was quick to give back to the workers dealing with the front lines of the COVID epidemic. While selling gift cards to help sustain their transition into a takeout-only business, they began donating pizzas to workers. Every $25 gift card purchased was another pizza donated, meaning that Crush was effectively matching gift card purchases with donations. Wow. 

The sudden surge in delivery apps like UberEats and GrubHub led to some controversy about restaurants receiving their fair share of payment. To both address this and help keep their staff on payroll, Crush Pizza set up their own delivery system using their former waitstaff as drivers. Moves like this would become increasingly popular across the state as social distancing requirements continued and restaurants looked for ways to retain employees. 

With restaurants gradually reopening their seating areas, Crush Pizza has rolled out a reservation system with time limits on tables. This method has grown to be increasingly popular for places with limited dine-in seating space to ensure that they can control how many people are dining at once. While measures like this may sound excessive or stressful, it seems like customers don't mind. In fact, most seem to forget that the system is there once they've got pizza. 

Colorado has since announced another wave of cautiously optimistic changes to restaurant rules. While a return to "normal" might still be a long way off, restaurants are getting more and more optimistic. These last few months have proven that no matter what challenges pop up, there are plenty of local eateries happy to meet them!

Do you know of any other restaurants that have adapted well to COVID-19 closures? Let us know in the comments!