Ocean Basket uses unique roadhouse-style dining option, saving jobs in the process

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Ocean Basket has started to offer a roadhouse-style dining experience with a waiter serving people in their cars on a plank.
Ocean Basket has started to offer a roadhouse-style dining experience with a waiter serving people in their cars on a plank.
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  • Ocean Basket has started to offer a roadhouse-style dining experience with a waiter serving people in their cars on a plank. 
  • This is owing to level 4 lockdown regulations, where restaurants are only allowed to sell their food through deliveries, takeaways or by using drive-through facilities. 
  • Ocean Basket CEO Grace Harding says the roadhouse will allow them to save a few waiter jobs.  

South Africa has entered the second week of its latest two-week level 4 lockdown, with restaurants - among others - bearing the brunt as sit-down dining has been disallowed. In an attempt to minimise the blow, some of seafood franchise restaurant Ocean Basket's branches have launched a roadhouse-style dining experience.

Users on social media shared images of Ocean Basket in Lagoon Drive, Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal, offering this experience to customers. But Ocean Basket CEO Grace Harding said the idea originally came from another franchisee, who did it at his restaurant in Louis Trichardt, Limpopo.

"About a week ago, we were having our usual Thursday catch-up with our franchisees. The owner of [the] Louis Trichardt [franchise] shared how a friend advised them to serve people in their cars, using a 'plank'.

"You can only do it if you have available parking and [you] can't do it in a shopping centre. There [are] approximately six Ocean Baskets now doing that. So, the inspiration came from another franchisee," said Harding.

According to Harding, the wooden plank used is just a "regular melamine board". The car's driver and passenger windows are rolled down, the wooden board is placed inside the car resting on the door frames, like a table, a waiter serves the meals and then removes the board when customers have finished dining.

Lagoon experience
Ocean Basket in Lagoon Drive, Umhlanga providing a roadhouse experience.

In terms of government's level 4 lockdown regulations, announced on 27 June, sit-down eateries will remain closed until at least 11 July.

"Besides the Umhlanga establishment, there's one in Mokopane, Gateway, Stoneridge, Vanderbijlpark and Newcastle [offering the in-car dining option]," said Harding.

"They are never going to make a lot of money [during lockdown], but it keeps their spirits up and it keeps more people employed.

"If we were [merely] doing deliveries and takeaways, then only four kitchen staff would work and [because] they are working in shifts, they [would be earning] nothing. The poor waiters are the ones in the biggest trouble ... so at least there are a few more people [working]," said Harding.

The food will, however, be served in takeaway packaging, "which is a pity because our food is more fun in a pan", said Harding.

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