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Food Writer’s Diary
Tony Darden, president of Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes, speaks with Bret this week for In the Kitchen with Bret Thorn.

Tony Darden looks to get Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes to the other side of the coronavirus pandemic

The president of the better burger chain accelerated plans already in place to fulfill customers’ needs

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When a global pandemic forces you to close your dining rooms and focus solely on takeout and delivery, it comes in handy to have protocols for that in place already.

Of course Tony Darden, president of Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes, an all-franchised concept based in Plano, Texas, with about 83 locations, had no idea that the novel coronavirus was going to transform the way that people interact with restaurants, but takeout and delivery were becoming more of a priority for consumers even before disaster struck.

So Mooyah had delivery in place at all of its restaurants by the end of last year. He’d planned to roll out curbside pickup in 2021, but once their dining rooms were ordered closed, they managed to make it happen in seven days.

With consumer engagement via social media and the chain’s app, plus sale of groceries and introduction of free delivery, the chain has seen initial sales drops of 40%-50% return to year-over-year declines in the 20s. Under normal times that would still be terrible, but these aren’t normal times, and Darden is confident that his franchisees will see their way through to the other side of this crisis, and that the innovations they’ve made will put them in a solid position at that point.

“I firmly believe that the way that consumers are using restaurants right now is going to continue once we get to the other side of this pandemic,” he said. 

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

Correction: April 30, 2020
The correct number of Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes is 83. This article has been updated to reflect that.
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