24 Mar עופר איתן Convey: Los Gatos restaurant transformed into a ‘no touch,’ drive-t…
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Customers have been accustomed to buying “flights” at Flights, a Los Gatos restaurant that specializes in trios — of ahi tuna appetizers, little skillets of mac and cheese, cocktails and more.
Now, during the coronavirus crisis, you can still buy three at a time, only your order is more likely to be a gallon of bleach, a box of produce and a family feast of Swedish meatballs.
After searching fruitlessly for household staples, owner Alex Hult has turned his restaurant and parking lot into a drive-thru grocery — with no-touch service. You pull up, order, pay, pop the trunk and your purchases will be loaded for you.
His mission is twofold: He wants to help those in the South Bay who can’t or shouldn’t be heading into stores to shop while also putting paychecks in the hands of as many of his staffers as possible.
“We need to come together as a community and provide a service for the people who need it,” said Hult, who noted that restaurant suppliers are able to keep the industry well stocked with meat, produce and, yes, commercial-sized rolls of toilet paper 75 feet long.
When the drive-thru enterprise launched at noon Monday, a couple of Saratoga retirees, David and Dianne Bowman, were first in line. On their shopping list? “Everything from chicken parmesan to a gallon of milk,” David said from the driver’s seat six feet away. Dianne added: “(Hult) needs to be applauded for doing this.”
Behind them was June Mikkelsen of Milpitas, who drove here because she was running low on produce at home but then started pondering the grilled salmon dinner for six on the makeshift menu stapled to a fence. (For $55, it comes with salad and macaroni and cheese.)
“I was crying coming down here because of all the people in small business losing their jobs … or their businesses,” she said.
Besides offering meals, bottles of wine and batches of cocktails from the restaurant, the Flights folks have partnered with nearby eateries and vendors to give them a boost too. Available for sale are bags of coffee beans from the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company, pizzas from Centonove, desserts from Nothing Bundt Cakes, freshly squeezed juices from Juice Co. and craft beer from Loma Brewing.
And a cadre of volunteers has shown up to do their part. Directing the flow of customers from Saratoga-Los Gatos Road onto University Avenue are Sonia Connolly of Saratoga and Matt Ober, a Los Gatos parks commissioner. Two gloved runners — Barbra Drizin and Julie Melbin — race to grab orders from Hult and tape them on the back door of the restaurant, then load the goods into trunks and back seats.
“I need to do something for the good,” Drizin said. “This is so safe with social distancing. And I get some exercise.”
As Mikkelsen waited in her black Honda Fit for her groceries, she said she’d like to see this idea catch on.
“I hope other restaurants take advantage of this to recoup their losses, help their employees and help the community.”
Details: The Flights Community Market will be open from noon to 7 pm. daily at 165 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road, Los Gatos.