It’s no secret that restaurants in Austin have faced almost insurmountable difficulties in the past few months. Once thriving businesses are struggling to stay afloat, thanks to a year-long pandemic and a series of restaurant restrictions.
Some Austin restaurants are getting creative with their business models in these COVID times. They innovate and make changes to serve customers where they are (at home) and take advantage of monthly subscription box services. Of course, take-out and delivery are nothing new in the food industry, but unlike pizza delivery in the national chain, these memberships often offer premium products and additional perks.
Until Austinites can step back and personally support our restaurant industry, these local subscription boxes will help customers enjoy some of our favorite dishes at home while maintaining a key sector of our economy. Below are just a few of the local companies that are now offering member subscriptions.
The latest Austin store to join the direct-to-consumer subscription game is the Chop Chop noodle brand, which gained near iconic status as a pop-up in May 2020. The company specializes in frozen, fresh, authentic Asian street broth-style noodles and recently launched the Club Mian monthly subscription service.
While Chop Chop sells its pasta cups by the piece and the products are now available at some local retailers, Club Mian Austinites is set to help supply their freezers with months of supply of pasta cups. Club Mian offers three levels of membership: Box Mini with three pasta cups for $ 24; Box Happy, which contains six $ 45 pasta cups; and Box Super, which contains 12 pasta cups for $ 84. Each selection is available with an all-in or mix-and-match noodle option. Members simply register online, select their box type and options, and wait for delivery the first week of the month.
Membership benefits include the occasional surprise in subscription boxes, discounts, and the ability to try out new specials before they’re released.
“For us, street food is the ultimate democratic food. We find this particularly relevant in the moment we all have today, ”says co-founder Steve Har. “We’re trying to bring that community experience to Chop Chop.”
With initial intentions to open a taco truck, the enterprising entrepreneurs and caterers behind El Camaron turned in the midst of the pandemic and turned their plan for a food truck into a bustling taco delivery service that helped Austinites “recreate a taco to get the other through difficult days. ”
While not a subscription box model, El Camaron works in bulk, supplying taco family packs and tacos by the dozen to keep the freezer stocked. The family-style take-away-and-bake taco festival (starting at $ 45) includes three taco options: the mini taco package, which includes six tacos of different flavors, a selection of salsa, fries and pineapple pico, two seasonal side dishes, and one choice between seasonal margarita or agua fresca; the Chico Taco Pack with 12 tacos and the same sides and fixins; and the Grande Taco Pack, which contains 24 tacos, sides, and fixins, including half a gallon of margaritas. As part of the delivery service, à la carte products are also available, including the popular prickly pear ceviche and a six-pack of breakfast tacos.
The El Camaron team prepares every meal – wearing gloves and masks, of course – in a commercial kitchen in East Austin and delivers the tacos (for a fee of $ 5) at certain times Tuesday through Saturday. Each taco pack is delivered frozen and ready-to-cook and is accompanied by fresh limes, cabbage, radishes, tomato dressing, queso fresco and salsa.
East Side King
One of Austin’s favorite suppliers of Japanese home cooking is fast becoming the king of chef-curated sushi packages. While East Side King is only available for pickup, it now offers a subscription service that offers all of the lip service that Austinites crave.
With specific order and pickup times per month, the three subscription levels include: the East Side King at Home package ($ 30 to $ 55 per month for two to four people), which includes a unique meal with Japanese appetizers, side dishes, and apps such as: steamed buns and the delicious Kara Age of East Side King; and the East Side King Sushi Club ($ 25 to $ 150 per month for one to four people) offers a rotating selection of hearty sushi and snacks, including chef-made maki, sashimi, nigiri, and tamaki. While both packages are available with beverage add-ons, the East Side King Beverage Collective package ($ 35 to $ 55 per month, for two to six people) might be the right choice as it has a curated selection of Japanese beer, sake, and wine offerings with Japanese bodega snacks as an addition.
Let’s face it: staying home is a lot easier when it comes to brisket. To survive the pandemic and provide the locals with delicious meat, the Smokin Beauty BBQ area in North Austin launched its Weekly Meal Club.
For $ 40 a week, diners can buy some hot, meaty entrees every Tuesday night. From Pho with smoked brisket to marinated and smoked chicken breasts to smoked ribs, the Smokin Beauty Club offers meat that changes every week with a mixture of Texas barbecue and Vietnamese flavors, as well as a variety of side dishes. Meals serve three to four people, and add-ons are available. (Hello, Viet-Tex Martinis!) In addition, the Smokin Beauty people offer a surprise for customers in every weekly package.