In an effort to curb the spread of infection during the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants are changing the way they do business. Many well-known chains had to close their sit-down facilities, but instead shifted focus to their take-out, home delivery, and drive-thru services. For businesses that provided these services as a standard operation (like McDonalds, In-n-Out Burger, KFC, etc), it was an easy transition.

But for those restaurants that only had sit-down facilities, this posed a new challenge. How would they provide high-end meals and earn revenue if their customers were not allowed to actually sit down in house? Well, one restaurant in Ottawa, Canada, decided to take drive-thru eating to the next level.

The Atelier restaurant is well-known for a high-end, multi-course tasting menu, created by the innovative and creative Chef Marc Lepine. But when their doors had to temporarily close due to the COVID-19 restrictions, Chef Lepine was at his wits end. “Yes, you’re allowed to do takeaways” they said, but how could he re-align their high-end, fine-dining menu to serve the takeout food scene?

While pondering this dilemma, Chef Lepine’s pastry chef had a stroke of brilliance. He suggested that they do their multiple courses in drive-thru format. It was simple: you start by picking up the first course, then drive around the block and fine somewhere to enjoy the delicious meal. Then, upon finishing, you drive back, get the next course, and repeat. Chef Lepine eagerly implemented the idea. In this way, he could still stick to their multi-course tasting menu format, while fully adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Of course, a few changes had to be made. They condensed their regular 12-course menu into a 5-course menu, selling tickets for $100 and limiting the availability to 10 vehicles per service. Since launching this new format in early May, they have sold out every single time.

How long this special 5-course drive-thru menu will last will all depend on COVID-19 and its impacts. We are sure that Atelier will be back to normal one of these days, but for the time being, customers are enjoying their dessert all while peeking through a squeaky-clean car window.