When toilet paper is such a hot commodity in a pandemic, giving away a free roll with purchase may be a stroke of marketing genius.
And some area businesses are doing anything they can to capture what has become a captive audience.
Carmen Pirain, owner of Cucina Bella, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., Bridgeville, off Lesnett Road, said, “I can’t quite wrap my head around” the toilet paper frenzy, but when a wholesaler offered to donate a couple of cases to the restaurant, he was flush with an idea that soon swirled on social media.
“It’s not the Charmin four-ply stuff, but restaurant grade,” Pirain said. “It’s goin’ well. Everyone’s joking about it.”
And although there’s a certain ring to “free TP with every pizza,” the offer applies to any purchase on the Cucina Bella menu, Pirain said.
One customer left with her edibles and paper roll, then came back a moment later and offered to buy a beverage and separate item so she could get a couple more rolls.
And she didn’t mean the pepperoni variety.
“I know it’s serious, but, man, it’s crazy,” said Pirain, who opened his eatery nine years ago.
Asked how long the promo might last, Pirain replied, “As long as I can get my hands on it. I have 600 rolls.
“You’ve got to play along with this. What have we got to lose?”
Wine to go
No, the “D” in J&D Winery’s name doesn’t stand for delivery, but delivery is now an option, said Holly McIntosh, from “The Street” store, which customers are no longer permitted to enter.
As novel coronravirus cases began cropping up in eastern Pennsylvania, McIntosh could see the handwriting on the wall, and J&D mobilized.
“Let’s just do deliveries,” J&D decided on Sunday, which was followed Tuesday by curbside pickup.
“As soon as I made that post, it’s been slammed,” McIntosh said. “It’s kind of like all a blur.”
Curbside pickups are arranged by phone a day in advance, payment is by debit or credit card, and the recipient must show identification that proves he or she is 21 years old or older.
Before a home delivery is completed, the person at the door must present proof of the same age requirement. J&D will deliver within a 15-mile radius next day with a three-bottle minimum.
Outside the radius?
“We’ll work with you,” McIntosh said.
“With delivery you do get a free gift, like a corkscrew or topper,” she said, because why buy a wine bottle if you can’t open it?
Based in Eighty Four, McIntosh said, “We started making our own wine about 15 years ago just for fun,” and J&D Winery reflects that spirit. Their green apple wine, a sweet white called Chloe’s Choice, for example, is named for their goat.
J&D updates its website wine list daily.
“I’ve been working on shipping for a year,” she said. “We’re planning to launch online shipping in the next two weeks.
“We’re in a couple of Giant Eagles, a couple of Shop ‘n Saves,” she added. “If we have to close, we’ll be prepared for online and get it shipped to them.”
Tracking what’s happening elsewhere is part of McIntosh’s savvy.
“We look at other states and see what’s happening.” she said. “We get ready for the trend.
“I think my background in community work and business definitely helped prepare me to understand the trajectory.
“I’m optimistic for everyone,” she concluded. “I’m an optimist.”
Marianna ‘meat-up’ in Washington
On Thursdays from May through October, Bob Von Scio of Heritage Craft Butchers heads toward South Main Street in Washington for the farmers market where he’s a vendor.
He was back again this week so customers could pick up orders of meats and chicken noodle soup.
“That’s my spot,” he said, pointing toward a white van parked near a florist’s shop at the beginning of a three-hour sojourn as winter was about to wane into spring.
What’s in these meat bags? An assortment of rib eye steaks, pork chops, ground beef, bacon and chicken breasts.
“We’ve been to the shop,” said Scott May as he transacted business. “This is closer than Marianna.”
“Everyone who’s coming, thank you for showing up,” Von Scio added.
It’s too early to tell what the coronavirus situation might be in a few months, but Von Scio said, “It will either be, ‘Hey, remember when we shut down the world for four weeks?’ or it will just be the new normal and everyone will do their shopping in parking lots.”
Eatery institutes deliveries
Deliveries that began Wednesday from Chicco Baccello were going so well owner Lisa Aprea is considering extending the service through the summer.
“It’s only been a couple days and people are going stir-crazy,” she said. “We are delivering when we have never delivered before, but only between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. within a five-mile radius of our shop.”
The shop is located at at 239 S. Main St. location.
“This is something that’s totally new for us,” Aprea said.
“People have to call in the order (from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. weekdays), and I have to take the payment over the phone.”
That way, there’s no exchanging “filthy lucre.” Delivery drivers will not carry cash.
An alternative to delivery is curbside pickup of a bag bearing the customer’s name.
“It’s a system that’s always worked here anyway. Some people aren’t comfortable coming in,” Aprea said.
Saturday mornings were a time when people would kick back and relax until restaurants and bars throughout the state were ordered to close their dine-in facilities to to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
“I don’t know if we’ll be open on Saturdays,” for pickups and deliveries,” Aprea said.
Businesses that offer carry-out, delivery and drive-through food and beverage service may continue to do so, but they are to maintain “social distancing” and be aware of the guidance from President Donald Trump’s administration to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
Eating and drinking inside restaurants and bars is temporarily prohibited, and Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board announced steps to begin enforcing this order as of 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Canonsburg Mayor David Rhome has enlisted the help of Canonsburg area churches and Washington City Mission to distribute emergency food to families in need in the Canon-McMillan School District during the coronavirus outbreak.
Two distribution times are planned for Monday at three locations.
The City Mission will have a pop-up pantry from 1 to 3 p.m. at Canonsburg United Presbyterian Church, 112 W. Pike St. Bags of food while supplies last.
There will also be other distributions from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Canonsburg United Presbyterian Church and Holy Rosary Church, 246 Muse-Bishop Road, Muse. At these locations, bags for with lunch items for children of disadvantaged families
No registration is required, and it is on a first come, first served basis. The distribution is sponsored by the Greater Canonsburg-Houston Ministerial Association.
For those who would like to donate toward continued efforts of food distribution may send a check payable to the Greater Canonsburg-Houston Ministerial Association, P.O. Box 206, Canonsburg, Pa. 15317 and designate the check for “food.”