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How upscale restaurants in Salt Lake City are handling the switch to takeout

COVID-19 has forced some eateries to rethink what it means to be a fine-dining establishment.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Tyropita (feta, myzithra, charred green onion, crispy phyllo, piquillo romesco) at Manoli's in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.

With COVID-19 case counts rising, the omicron variant running wild and winter flu season setting in, it’s unsurprising that self-elected isolation is gaining popularity — as many decide going out is not an option.

There are still plenty of ways to have great, fresh dining experiences from the comfort of home.

Regardless of whether you have something to celebrate or are simply feeling worthy of a reward for making it through another year in a pandemic, here are some upscale restaurants that offer great takeout options, to make isolation a little bit tastier.

Beaumont Bakery and Cafe

In a shopping mall on the hills of Mount Olympus stands an unassuming brown building: Beaumont Bakery and Cafe.

The eatery — at 3979 Wasatch Blvd. in Millcreek — has become a staple of the Salt Lake Valley’s food scene, thanks to the comfortable atmosphere, fresh food and breathtaking pastries. But the pandemic forced the bakery to make some big changes, said owner Jana Whiting.

Whiting said she only closed the bakery/cafe for one full day during the pandemic, to redo the floors. “I’m supplying income to a lot of people that need it, so I didn’t want to,” she said. “I gave everyone an opportunity to work.”

Since then, she said, Whiting has instituted changes to improve efficiency — things she never had time to put into effect before, but that, in retrospect, she needed to flourish, she said.

“Before the pandemic, I didn’t even have a phone hooked up,” Whiting said, laughing. Whiting also built up the bakery’s website, which jumpstarted her online ordering system.

Today, she said, Beaumont has its online system down — and Whiting aims to make the takeout experience as close to dining in as possible.

“We make the food the exact same way,” she said. “We package it the best we can. I think the packaging is important for takeout. It should look pretty, which I think ours does.”

There have been logistical hurdles, she said.

“One of the problems will be that somebody orders something and the time from when it’s prepared and when they come can sometimes be a long time,” Whiting said. “We don’t pre-do anything, so it takes more time, but it tastes better that way.” She asks customers for patience, knowing that it’s the quality of her food that keeps people coming back — and quality takes time.

And customers have been coming back. Beaumont Bakery and Cafe has seen its revenue go up 35% since the pandemic began, Whiting said.

A crisis, she said, “can be rough but it can make you better, too.”

For those wanting to try takeout from the French bakery, Whiting’s top recommendation is the avocado toast. “It’s a great takeaway item. If you like eggs, you should always get it with the egg,” she said. If you want something more chic, Whiting recommends the grain bowl with salmon, which you can get for takeout even if you might not see it on the menu.

Per Noi Trattoria

Per Noi Trattoria has been the epicenter of Italian cuisine in the Salt Lake area since its start in 2012. Its owner, Tony Casella, was born and raised in Italy, and he started the restaurant in a small neighborhood in Sugarhouse with a friend and a love for cooking. After his three-year lease in the first Sugarhouse location ended, Casella relocated to a space at 3005 S. Highland Drive, where Michaelangelo’s had recently closed.

“It was the perfect combination, because we needed the space and we were able to partner up with Michaelangelo’s,” Casella said.

The biggest change the pandemic brought, Casella said with a chuckle, was that “we’ve used a lot of to-go containers — a lot. A lot of pizza boxes.”

Those containers and boxes got Per Noi through the pandemic, Casella said. “We had a lot of customers that were loyal from the area that would come in and order to-go — and I’m not talking about once a week,” he said. “People would come in two or three times a week just to support us.”

Even as he has reopened the restaurant to in-person dining, Casella said, “I’ve seen a big increase in to-go orders compared to a year and a half ago.”

The majority of his takeout business, he said, comes from loyal customers who came in so often in the beginning of the pandemic. “I think a lot of them have just gotten used to eating at home,” he said.

Casella hasn’t felt the need to branch out his takeout system further than good old-fashioned call-in orders. “Most of our customers are local, so there’s no need for other stuff, they’ll just call in,” he said. Plus, Casella enjoys knowing the people who eat at his restaurant.

Per Noi��s dine-in and takeout menus are identical, so whatever a customer would normally order in-person can also be enjoyed at home. Still, Casella is quick to recommend the lasagna. “People love it because we use fresh ricotta and nice, fresh mozzarella on top. People love that,” he said, adding that it tastes just as good reheated.

Per Noi makes its food fresh — and between that and the return to in-person dining, people might have to wait longer. But, no matter how busy it might get, Casella will never refuse a takeout order.

“Those are the people that kept us alive during the pandemic, why shut them out now?” he said. “I just feel like I owe them.”

Casella promises the same service, whether dining in or ordering takeout. “We try and treat everyone equally,” he said.

Manoli’s

Manoli’s sits on the corner of 900 South and 400 East (402 E. 900 South, to be precise), in an intimate space with modern decor and a visible kitchen. Named for its owner, Manoli Katsanevas, the restaurant has been open since 2015 and is one of the few fine-dining Greek restaurants in the Salt Lake area.

When the pandemic first arrived, Manoli’s closed its doors for four months, until Katsanevas felt comfortable enough to re-open. In those months, Katsanevas did something different than the traditional takeout services — he went with a take-and-bake concept.

“It was a whole meal you could purchase, there would be sides and stuff, too,” Katsanevas said. “The only thing you had to do was follow the instructions, so it felt like you were cooking a little bit.”

In July 2020, Manoli’s reopened to 50% capacity — and Katsanevas said his takeout orders “increased exponentially.”

Before the pandemic, Katsanevas said, “we used to do a few takeout orders a week, if that. I always thought people weren’t going to pay a lot of money for fine-dining takeout, but then we closed down and when we opened again, it was crazy. We couldn’t keep up.”

Katsanevas credits a majority of that increase to the tweaks he made in response to COVID-19.

Like Beaumont, Manoli’s didn’t have an online ordering system before the pandemic. “It’s so easy to just go online, pick your stuff, order it and choose a time. You don’t even have to talk to anyone,” Katsanevas said.

To keep more control over the quality of his food, Katsanevas said, customers must use his website or call in their orders. He doesn’t use any third-party delivery services. “With DoorDash or whatever, it’s hard, because they’ll come pick it up, but you never know how long it will take to deliver that,” he said.

Manoli’s is now open for both dine-in and takeout, and, Katsanevas said, it’s busier than ever — “2020 was the slowest year we’ve ever had, and 2021 was the busiest year we’ve ever had. It completely flip-flopped,” he said.

For takeout, Katsanevas’s top recommendations are the charred-lamb riblets and the grilled octopus — though, he acknowledges, one either “loves or hates octopus.” For more traditional tastes, he endorses the chicken wings or house-made pasta.

No matter what you order, Katsanevas ensures that it won’t disappoint. “We wouldn’t put it in a box if it wasn’t good,” he said.

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