McCormick & Schmick's, others feed customers outside the restaurant

PORTLAND Ore. As consumers dine out less, restaurants are still finding ways to get food on their tables, even if it's at home.

McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurants this week launched a website where consumers can buy raw seafood and steaks and have them shipped to their homes overnight. McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Market (http://Shop.McCormickandSchmicks.com [2]) also sells premade desserts and appetizers, along with cookbooks and cooking accessories.

Liz Brady, a spokeswoman for McCormick & Schmick's, said the Seafood Market website had been in the company's growth plans for a while as a way to reach both customers who wanted to entertain at home as well new customers who did not live near one of the chain's 85 U.S. restaurants.

However, when the economy soured, she said the company accelerated the website's debut as consumers began to cut down on dining out. Earlier this month, McCormick & Schmick's reported that same-store sales fell 5.5 percent in the Sept. 27-ended third quarter, as guest traffic decreased nearly 10 percent.

"[The Seafood Market website] is another way to stay in front of their guests outside the restaurants," she said.

For customers, Brady said the website takes the guesswork out of selecting raw seafood by using the same high-quality standards that McCormick & Schmick's has for its restaurants. Customers can purchase such fresh fish as salmon and red snapper fillets, as well as shellfish, including sea scallops, lobster tails and King crab legs.

Earlier this year, McCormick & Schmick's launched another website, SeafoodHealth.com, which offers information about the health benefits of seafood as well as recipes and cooking tips.

McCormick & Schmick's joins other restaurants that are reaching out to customers at home. Olive Garden has asection on its website [3] that uses recipes and cooking videos to teach consumers how to prepare some of the restaurant's dishes at home. Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar created the website LeftoverSteakRecipes.com [4] earlier this year to give customers ideas on how squeeze two meals out of one restaurant visit.

And just in time for the holiday season, a handful of well-known restaurants are offering their products for purchase in the catalog Foods Across America [5]. Among them is Anchor Bar of Buffalo, N.Y., which is selling its famous chicken wings and sauce, and Café du Monde in New Orleans, which is offering beignet mix and chicory coffee. The catalog also features the chili of Cheli's Chili Bar in Detroit; ribs, burnt ends and barbecue sauce from Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue in Kansas City, Mo.; and corned beef and cheesecake from Carnegie Deli in New York City.