One of the silver linings to come out of the restaurant industry’s countless pandemic-era pivots has been the rise of food businesses selling their own pantry staples. From fiery ginger dumpling sauces to chubby frozen tamales, restaurants across the country are now slinging food products made to be shipped, stored, frozen, and enjoyed at any time. It’s an essential way for restaurant teams to add to their bottom lines in a turbulent time — and it gives home cooks something to celebrate too.
At Alta Adams in Los Angeles’ historic West Adams neighborhood, chefs Keith Corbin and Daniel Patterson smother towering barbecued brisket sandwiches in a smoky-sweet, housemade apple BBQ sauce. It’s also ready to be taken home in neat jars to imbue everything from lunchtime sandwiches to backyard burgers with the perfect blend of sweet and heat. Up in Seattle, Levantine restaurant Mamnoon sells jars of their beloved housemade Harra Sauce. They use the fiery blend of Fresno chiles, smoked paprika, and garlic to flavor everything from crispy Brussels sprouts to seared fish. And in Brooklyn, Win Son Bakery offers their housemade ginger dipping sauce and chili vinaigrette to give homemade meals a restaurant-quality Taiwanese flair.
In addition to offering delivery for local customers, participating in programs like Caviar’s Nationwide Delivery has allowed some restaurants to expand their reach. “It has been nice and steady so far, and the customers seem to like the products, which is most important,” says Kevin Chinn, operations manager of Negril Jamaican Eatery in Washington, D.C.
Negril began selling frozen versions of their popular Jamaican jerk chicken and beef patties via Caviar during the pandemic, so customers can bake them off in their homes and enjoy the pleasures of a warm beef patty anytime. “It is perfect as a quick lunch item if you are working from home or as a late-night snack if you're coming home from a late night,” says Chinn. “It's a very versatile product and I think most people would enjoy it even if they've never had Jamaican cuisine before.”
They’re not the only restaurant supplementing their income via Nationwide Delivery. Try steaming up your own soup dumplings from iconic restaurant Xiao Chi Jie without a trip to Bellevue, Washington. (Don’t forget an order of their cult-favorite umami sauce for dipping!). Stock your freezer with comforting, fully loaded tamales from Texas Lone Star Tamales. Or turn up the heat for pasta night with spicy marinara sauce from Carbone, a true New York red-sauce institution. Take a saucy bite, close your eyes, and you’re there.