MANCHESTER, NH — Timing, they say, is everything. Ask Tom Puskarich, chef/owner of Restoration Café on Hanover Street. After spending time last fall conceptualizing an innovative new restaurant — one without walls, tables or chairs — never could he have imagined the irony of COVID-19 on his latest dining venture, Good & Planty.
Turns out the virtual restaurant that only offers delivery with a plant-based menu of good and good-for-you food is just the prescription for healthier living in these stressful times. Originally set to launch April 1 with Uber Eats, after a successful pilot proved Manchester had the appetite and wallet to support it, Good & Planty opened for business on May 1, serving Tuesday through Sunday 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. only through Uber Eats, GrubHub, and DoorDash.
Coffee/teas, fresh juices, smoothies, smoothie bowls, power bowls, toasts & sandwiches.
“I wanted to give people a healthy alternative from the usual fare out there,” said Puskarich, “Good & Planty delivers on its promise – literally – to serve only good, clean, dietary flexible, plant-based food that nourishes and nurtures the body.”
Good & Planty’s online menu is easy to digest. And so are the prices. The blurbs? Virtual poetry of produce or herb or grain combos that actually get you excited about breakfast and lunch again.
Take the Tropical Smoothie Bowl, $8. Dragon fruit, banana, coconut milk base; topped with candied ginger, mango, pineapple. In a bowl? “How else to serve a breakfast sundae?” asks Puskarich. Well, now that you put it that way, it sounds better than better.
As for the powerful list of Power Bowl contenders, the Mexican Corn Power Bowl, $8, is the natural choice for those with a taste for something South of the Border. Roasted corn and mild poblano chili salad, shredded red cabbage, sunflower seeds, tortilla strips, lime vinaigrette over baby arugula. ¡Qué susto!
COVID-19 may have forever altered the restaurant industry as we knew it. The National Restaurant Association estimates that 11 percent of U.S. restaurants permanently closed in March. Upwards of 70 percent will close if dine-in options are restricted for more than six months, according to Eater, or, if restaurateurs fail to develop aggressive new business models that can navigate the new normal.
“When I first conceived of Good & Planty back in November,” said Puskarich, “I thought, ‘Why not?’ Why not join this growing national trend in virtual restaurants and add incremental financial growth to my portfolio? But when COVID hit and I saw the horrible repercussions to the traditional restaurant trade, the idea for Good & Planty morphed into a more serious revenue opportunity.”
By design, he didn’t lose anything in the quest. Puskarich already owns and successfully operates Restoration Café as a brick-and-mortar restaurant with an industrial kitchen that, until recently, offered eat-in but still has takeout and delivery. So, no additional expense renting or buying another kitchen.
Plus, marketing, as initially planned, would be handled through Uber Eats. Again, at no cost to Puskarich. Uber Eats has skin in the game – as do all food delivery services/apps – and marketing the restaurants through their social media platforms drives hungry diners to their partner restaurant menus.
“I spent considerable time looking at my competitors’ menus on all the delivery apps before deciding on what I wanted to put out there,” said Puskarich. “Frankly, there’s little to no truly healthy options out there; no plant-based meals that you can feel confident about their integrity and confident about eating. Until now. Until Good & Planty.”
It couldn’t hurt that Puskarich’s reputation as a quality food purveyor precedes him — Restoration Café consistently scores highly with customers — and so it follows that he would be heralded across the foodie-scape via word of mouth and local press, once his innovative eating enterprise opened for orders. There you have it!