Arizona’s stay-at-home orders transformed the Phoenix food landscape, turning busy dining rooms into empty chairs at empty tables near deserted shopping center parking lots.
As things open back up, Valley restaurants want diners to know that they're still alive and kicking, that they're serving curbside, or that there are new rules for dine-in service.
For that, they need signs and banners. And Crescent Crown Distributors has found itself in a unique position to help out.
The beverage distributor, whose portfolio includes international beer brands like New Belgium and Molson Coors and local brews from SanTan Brewing Company and PHX Beer Co., has two large-scale graphics departments at its Mesa and Surprise plants.
Those departments have ben busy producing custom signs to help clients sell beer. General Manager Joe Cotroneo says they shifted gears during the pandemic to make banners that read "Open For Business. Food and Beer To Go" and "Food and Beer For Carry Out And Delivery."
The signs were free, with one condition. "We had to put our logo on them," Cotroneo says. "The signs were available to anyone who wanted one. We wanted to be helpful to our customers."
Crescent Crown made more than 500 free signs for Valle Luna, Nick’s Italian, and other clients in Maricopa and Pinal counties.
The company also offered new discounts on kegs of beer to help clients get back on their feet. Cotroneo sees it as a way of paying it forward.
“We never laid off people, and we’re excited to get back to delivering beer and providing draft service,” Cotroneo says. “We know [our clients] are strapped for cash and they don’t know what volume they need. So we don’t want to stick them with beer that they don’t need.”
Crescent Crown is also producing signs for welcoming back customers. About 500 were just printed up with the message, “Happy Days Are Beer Again.”
Jim Eichenberg with Signarama Chandler says he has offered reduced pricing for customers in the restaurant business, including Arizona locations of Longhorn Steakhouse and Julia's Mesquite Mexican Grill in Chandler.
“The hardest part for us is just getting the word out [about the sign discounts],” Eichenberg says. “We’re also expediting things that are required for safety. A lot of safety signs.”
Aaron Moeller owns PostNet locations in Chandler and the Ahwatukee area. He says he is working on these new safety signs for several businesses. There are now signs reminding customers to stay six feet apart or to sit at every other table.
“For instance, with Texas Roadhouse, we produced signs that said if you have a large party, we only want two people checking in at the front counter,” Moeller says.
He also stressed how these instructional signs are as much for customers as they are for food industry staff.
“No one wants more rules, for Pete's sake, but you know people are going to have to follow certain recommended practices,” he says. “If a business wants people to act in a certain way, you have to let them know.”
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