Sebastiano’s Deli has decided not to have indoor seating during any phase of Oregon’s reopening. Instead, owners Elise and Daniel Gold are interested in a new approach to serving their hungry customers.
Sebastiano’s launch this month exceeded their expectations. They served over 200 customers in the first ten days. Since opening with pickup service, a clear customer pattern has emerged. Two customer types are prevalent, the lunchtime rush and people buy provisions to take home. As Multnomah County reopened with phased restrictions, inside dining was never going to be an option for Sebastiano’s. “Our space is just too small,” said Daniel Gold.
Gold’s observations about Sebastiano’s customers, and the limits of the space, called for a creative rework of how the restaurant will serve customers. Elise and Daniel Gold realized they would need to operate differently based on the time of day. Starting July 8th, Sebastiano will modify their schedule. From 11 AM to 3 PM, Wednesday through Saturday, they will offer pickup service as they have for the last month. This schedule will fully cover the lunchtime crowd. For those customers, they intend to enhance the lunch menu with “weekly sandwich and salad specials to give people fresh options each week beyond Muffuletta’s. ” said Gold.
After 3 PM, Sebastiano’s will transitions from pickup orders at the shop to home delivery. For $5, they will deliver orders over $50 to local addresses. The delivery area will expand out beyond Montavilla, into the adjacent neighborhoods. The Golds wanted to avoid the big names in third-party delivery services. “We are trying to avoid those [companies]. It’s really a tax everyone else.” Said Daniel Gold. He explained that delivery services charge a substantial percentage of the order’s total. To cover the lost margin paid to third party delivery services, they would have to increase menu prices for all customers. Working with companies like that did not fit what the Golds wanted for Sebastiano’s. Instead, the Golds will do the delivery themselves, and with help from family. Daniel’s cousin, Rachel, will be helping deliver orders over the summer.
Beyond basic delivery options, The Golds will launch an outdoor garden party package. That service is called Sebastiano’s Pop Up. It will deliver all the food and drinks needed for an outdoor party at a customer’s house. The customer needs to have the tables set up, and they will drop off an arrange the food in a yard or driveway.
Sebastiano’s has received OLCC and Healthy Business permits to offer seven tables for outdoor seating. They may consider offering table service on the sidewalk, like many others in Old Town Montavilla have. However, the outdoor dining space is competitive in Montavilla, and the Golds are not sure they want to be just another location trying to keep people distanced. “I really appreciate anyone who feels comfortable eating out right now and any restaurant operator who is comfortable and feels they can do it in a safe way.” Said Gold. However, Daniel Gold feels there are other types of people looking for a dining experience. “For that subset of people who still want to eat good food and still want novel experiences but don’t feel safe going out right now, we’re trying to rise to the occasion and provide them something enjoyable.”
Behind Sebastiano’s is a semi-private courtyard. There, the Golds have constructed a tent and outdoor seating geared towards private events. The Private Happy Hour can be booked for groups to “hang out with their friends in a safe, private, outdoor setting.” said Gold. With only a $200 Food and Drink minimum purchase, the whole menu will be available to the group. Only one group can book the space at a time, between 3 PM to 6 PM. Events can be kid-friendly, and pets are allowed.
The Golds hope this will be a safe and comfortable way for friends, large families, or coworkers to get together. Daniel Gold sees this as an “adapt or die” moment for restaurants. Even with his early success, he knows that they still have to earn each customer’s continued patronage. “We don’t take a single one for granted,” said Gold, talking about Sebastiano’s customers.
Sebastiano’s opening looks different than other businesses reopening efforts. They believe they have found a model that will work for customers and keep everyone safe, regardless of the changes from COVID-19. Some people have mentioned to the Golds that they are waiting for Sebastiano’s full opening before trying them out. The Golds want everyone to know that this is the full Sebastiano’s. They are entirely open and waiting to earn loyal customers.
Sebastiano’s is located at 411 SE 81st Ave.
Images in this article are provided courtesy of Sebastiano’s and Daniel Gold.