Diners ordering curbside take-out food at the Last Ballyhoo will now have their food and drink orders dropped into their arms from the restaurant’s roof. (photo courtesy of ZCaingkwaimliens)
A Blacktip Island restaurant, closed for dine-in service during the Caribbean island’s virus-prompted lockdown, has taken curbside delivery to new heights by dropping take-away food to waiting diners from the restaurant’s roof.
“Our goal is enhanced public safety,” Last Ballyhoo owner Peachy Bottoms said. “With standard curbside pickup, our workers have to get close enough to hand the food to customers. That’s close enough to pass the virus. We tried using a literal 10-foot pole, but it took too many people to handle it, especially for bigger orders.
“The system we worked out is customers park in designated delivery spaces beside the building, honk their horn, then Chrissy climbs up on the roof and chucks their food down at them,” Bottoms said. “It’s like cargo planes dropping supplies to soldiers, just on a smaller scale. And without the plane.”
Restaurant employees say the new service required them to learn new job skills on the fly.
“Me and Joey Pompano are the only ones with aim good enough to make the deliveries properly,” Chrissy Graysby said. “We had some pretty hacked-off diners at first, but we figured out how to wrap the food so there’s minimal disruption on impact. Soup was a major challenge, but we’re using scuba dry boxes and duct tape now.”
Customers praised the service.
“We appreciate the Ballyhoo’s emphasis on public health,” Christina Mojarra said. “We make a family outing of it. The kiddos just love catching the bags. Frankly, it’s about the only exercise they get these days. Plus, it’s nice not to have to cook and support a local business.”
Others said catching the meals can be a challenge.
“Some people stretch a beach towel between them to catch their food in, like old-school firemen,” Edwin Chub said. “‘Tonio Fletcher, he uses a landing net from his boat. Me, I put the kids’ mini-trampoline in the bed of my truck to soften the impact. Chrissy’s pretty good at hitting it dead center, and I can usually grab it on the first bounce.”
Local authorities have temporarily relaxed alcohol sales rules for the rooftop deliveries.
“The law says no alcohol can pass through a restaurant’s doors, but it says nothing about it being thrown from the rooftop,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “So long as the booze is sealed and in its original container, I’m letting it pass. These are trying enough times without an islandful of angry drinkers hounding me.”
Bottoms said the alcohol drops have been a surprise success.
“We’re happy to sell folks beer and wine, but with a caution,” she said. “We wrap the bottles in bubble wrap, but there’s no way we can guarantee they won’t get broken. The buyer assumes all risk.
“Funny thing is, we’re selling more booze now than we ever did,” Bottoms said. “When this quarantine business is over, we may keep doing rooftop deliveries. Except on Friday and Saturday nights. That’s when people down below take falling bottles the wrong way and start flinging empties back up. We had an ugly incident last week.”