It’s already a challenge for brands to create a safe, in-person experience in a pandemic, let alone one that revolves around food. Resy managed to pull off its first Covid-19-era tasting experience by cleverly integrating safety precautions for chefs, servers and guests in their cars.
The restaurant reservation app held the Resy Drive Thru, presented by the American Express Gold Card, at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles from Oct. 15-16. The industry-first event gathered 10 notable L.A. chefs to create dishes for guests to enjoy in their vehicles.
Consumers could purchase tickets on Resy’s app to attend, while American Express cardmembers had access to a presale. The brand reported tickets sold out almost immediately, with more than 600 guests—including celebrities Tyra Banks and Jesse Tyler Ferguson—attending over two nights.
Resy CMO Victoria Vaynberg said once the pandemic forced the brand to cancel its planned dining events for 2020, her team’s goal was to figure out the safest way to pivot for consumers.
“Our brand is for people who love dining out. The pandemic made it more apparent how much restaurants are a central part of communities and people’s everyday lives,” Vaynberg said. “We wanted to stand out and bring something to life that shared the magic of restaurants and chefs with consumers.”
Resy worked with experiential marketing agency Shiraz Creative to conceptualize and produce the event in about four months. The brand tapped chefs including Keith Corbin of Alta Adams; Mei Lin of Nightshade; Malachi Jenkins and Roberto Smith of Trap Kitchen; Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Jon & Vinny’s; Nyesha Arrington; and Nancy Silverton to make dishes exclusive to the event.
Vaynberg said the goal for Resy was to curate a diverse lineup of L.A. chefs who “are really special to the city and would resonate with the audience attending.”
Limiting physical interaction between attendees and staff was the event’s main priority, so both parties were required to follow a specific format. Upon arrival, a dedicated server wearing a mask, face shield and gloves would greet a group in their cars. The servers then guided each party in their vehicle to stations, with courses served on branded trays.
Since attendees were unable to interact with chefs as they would during a prepandemic Resy event, the brand created an audio guide with files that groups were encouraged to play while enjoying each dish. Available to download on iTunes or stream via Mixcloud, the audio recordings offered commentary from each chef about their dish and songs one would normally hear playing at their restaurants.
“We built this audio experience so that at every stop you’d feel the vibe and energy from that particular restaurant,” Vaynberg said.
The guide also included an introduction informing guests about how the experience worked at the safety precautions taken.
Vaynberg said while the brand took standard precautions such as providing consumers and staff with PPE and sanitizer, staff and chefs were also required to follow food prep and delivery protocols that aligned with the Hollywood Palladium and the City of Los Angeles.
Both nights, chefs prepared their dishes in tents that were distantly spaced throughout the outdoor venue. Additionally, all onsite staff was required to get a rapid Covid-19 test 24 hours before the event began.