Before, if I worked expo, I could see exactly how each plate would look to the guest. I could wipe the edge, arrange the garnish, perhaps call for a refire. When I handed a plate to a runner, I knew exactly what the guest would see moments later. Now, it gets loaded into a box and our “guest”, stuck at home, sees it twenty/thirty minutes later. Perhaps the box has been turned on its side or flipped over along the way. Given that the first taste is with one’s eyes, this is a really alarming change. Understanding the customer experience is essential in any business, and now our access to that experience is dramatically reduced. We have some customers we have cultivated as “Critical Friends”. They feel they are on the team, and they are indispensable. They have permission, actually a mandate, to be critical in the spirit of friendship, in the service of our kaizen, or “continuous improvement”. When their delivery arrives, they open it and send us a photo so we can see what they see. They send us notes on how various items held up. Some of our menu items travel better than others. Some lend themselves to being reheated. We have pared down the menu. We are testing new items with the Critical Friends. We have to take our packaging more seriously than ever. We are meeting with sales reps for competing packaging sources. We can’t assume our regular supplier has the best options. Before, as a full service restaurant, delivery was a small percentage of our business. Now it is critical. Many Japanese restaurants that serve sushi and bento boxes have had takeout packaging down for years. The packaging is exquisite. It doesn’t just hold the food – it enhances the dining experience. We are taking lessons from those operators.