PERRY HALL, MD — With restaurants closed to dine-in customers, Lib's Grill of Perry Hall is rebranding itself. The eatery will be calling itself "Lib's Grill Curbside" starting Friday.
"We’re going to be the best high-end carryout experience that you can have in the area," Nick Liberatore, co-owner of Lib's Grill, told Patch Thursday.
Lib's Grill Curbside will offer a "show," he said, with a staffer appearing in costume to deliver the meal on Honeygo Center Drive.
One staffer will be dressed as an avocado to deliver curbside meals Friday, he said, and new characters and special guests will be coming in the weeks ahead.
"It's really up to the personality of the bartender, server or host, but they have to sell the sizzle with the steak, the cherry with the milkshake," Liberatore said. "We have to sell that experience, whatever they do."
A former Ravens player and a radio broadcaster may be among the special guests coming up.
Liberatore said he hopes seeing costumed staff at Lib's Grill Curbside lifts people's spirits.
"Kids are home with Netflix or an iPad," Liberatore said. "If they saw Elsa — getting a 15-second interaction dropping off their food, still in line with social distancing — I think it creates a story and brings together the community."
Each weekday from 3 to 8 p.m. and from around noon to 8 p.m. on weekends, the restaurant will be delivering curbside through its costumed staff and VIPs.
"We'll be putting it on the website, so you'll know" when to find "your bartender, your host, your dishwashers," Liberatore said.
In addition, Lib's Grill released a new curbside menu. The restaurant, which opened in 2013, had been planning to rebrand itself in April anyway, so it had a new website in the works.
When the governor ordered bars and restaurants to close March 16 except for drive-thru, carryout and food delivery, the business decided to rebrand itself as a curbside carryout destination.
Favorites like ribeye and fish tacos will remain among the offerings, while new items such as a cranberry apple chicken salad sandwich and a "Chick-fil-A-esque" sandwich will be added, Liberatore said.
"There are certain items that we will no longer be able to provide," he said, since shipments have been scaled back from distributors. "Getting product has been challenging. We run a very diverse menu, and we had to shrink it down for speed and for quality as well."
Before the new coronavirus, Liberatore said 5 to 10 percent of sales were carryout at Lib's Grill, which also did some weddings. Sales are down 80 to 90 percent, he told Patch Thursday. He has had to make temporary layoffs.
"We were a restaurant that was busy every day, every night," Liberatore said. "We’re a steak and seafood restaurant. We offer an experience inside the restaurant. Putting our quality into a plastic container out the door" seemed to fall short of the Lib's Grill experience.
To figure out how Lib's Grill should move forward, he said he met with staff to discuss over Zoom.
"What are people struggling with?" Liberatore asked. "Human interaction."
Gatherings of more than 10 people have been banned in Maryland in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Nonessential businesses were ordered to close Monday, and public schools will be closed at least through April 24.
In coming up with the plan for one-of-a-kind curbside service, Liberatore said: "Even if they're just driving by [and not buying food], they get to see who’s dressed up today."
To minimize contact, people can call the restaurant to place an order and will be asked to give payment info over the phone as well as what type of vehicle the staff should expect. Personnel will be sanitizing everything and washing hands between interactions.
"Right now it's not about making money," Liberatore said. "It's about surviving."
Lib's Grill Curbside is at 5009 Honeygo Center Drive. Call to order.
Diners may also get delivery through DoorDash.
Here's the schedule:
- Noon–8 p.m. Monday to Friday, with show 3–8 p.m.
- 11:30 a.m.–8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with show from noon to 8 p.m.
- Brunch: 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Lib's Grill is at 5009 Honeygo Center Drive.