COVID-19 Update V. 29.0 – Friday, May 15th 2020

BY Administrator

2 years ago

In our concerted effort to keep all Mellow Mushroom owners, operators, and store-level leadership updated through such uncertain and trying times, the following is a continuation of FAQs regarding COVID-19 and current topics within the Mellow Mushroom brand. 

Please be on the lookout for multiple weekly update communications as the ever-changing COVID-19 developments continue hour by hour. 

If you have any questions or comments related to the information below, please email for a rapid response. 



As we head into the weekend I wanted to provide an update on sales. So far for the week we are up 22% vs. Prior Week. That translates into 5 consecutive weeks of incremental week over week sales improvement. We started working through this challenge 7 weeks ago, and were down 65% to Prior Year. Week to date, we are now sitting at -38% vs. Prior Year. Yesterday we had 24 locations positive for the day. We now have over 100 locations with open Dining Rooms with varying degrees of capacity. By the end of next week, we will have 150 locations. We also expect with each week to see the next phases of further loosening of capacity restraints. Georgia did this week and Florida just announced for next week. This will likely continue as long as there are no significant setbacks. We must continue to do our part and be vigilant in our Safety and Sanitation execution. Your designated Sanitation person (that should be scheduled each shift) needs to be highly visible to your guests, a constant reminder of our commitment to our guests’ and employees’ safety, sanitizing front doors, restroom doors, table tops, and all high traffic touch points.

More and more people are starting to venture out. Let’s reassure them they made the right choice in coming to your Mellow!


A reporter called and wants to interview me. What should I do? 

 As shelter in place restrictions are eased and restaurant dining rooms reopen, we have seen an increase in media requests for interviews. We ask that you do not speak to the Press. Should you be approached by the press, please refer all press inquiries to Anne Mejia, VP of Brand Development, via email at or by phone at 404-821-6680.  HGI has engaged a public relations firm, Hartman Public Relations, to assist with local, regional, and system-wide media relations.  For local press opportunities, the team at Hartman will provide talking points for your market, a media ready checklist for televised interviews, and an abbreviated media training, if necessary.


While some states have laid out guidelines that allow restaurants to seat their bar areas (Georgia, Alabama and Ohio to name a few), others have explicitly stated that bar areas are to remain closed to seating (Florida, Arkansas, and South Carolina, for example).

This presents a few unique problems when trying to comply with social distancing rules. Each of your restaurants has a unique bar layout. Therefore it is imperative that you clearly establish how social distancing is to be executed at your location. Here are a few examples:

“We allow couples to sit next to each other, but we removed all extra barstools and stage the pairs 6ft. apart”. 

Jessica Snyder, Area Manager
St. Simons Island | Pooler | Macon | Valdosta | Statesboro

“We have to tell the bartender to enforce…also stopping guests at the door with the hosts (no more ‘oh we’re just going to the bar’)…”

Rebecca Gardener, Area Manager
Marietta Johnson-Ferry | Woodstock | Marietta – West Cobb

The legislation from state to state has remained a moving target in many respects. Stay ahead of the changes by keeping abreast of events through your governor’s website and news reports.


Florida – as of May 18th, restaurants may increase their capacity to 50% (up from 25%); still no seating at the bar.

Texas – has extended its previous executive order for another 4 days to May 19th.  Expect a change in restrictions on Monday, May 18th.

Washington, DC – has not released its dining rooms to open but has extended their stay-at-home order until June 8th.

Texas’ Executive Order Extension

Washington DC’s Extension Order


With safety and sanitation now being so critical to the health and safety of our guests and team members, a few questions have been added to the on-premise guest survey. The responses to these questions will help provide insight into our guest perception of our operational safety measures. So far, we have received a lot of positive encouragement and appreciation from our guests regarding our safe practices. Still, some of the feedback received has been both alarming and disappointing. Fortunately, we have the opportunity to respond to any negative feedback quickly by providing advisement and enforcing the safe practices that must be adhered to in order to keep our guests (and their perspective of us) safe and healthy.



Was the Mellow team knowledgeable of and actively practicing Social Distancing?

During your visit, did you notice Mellow team members actively disinfecting and sanitizing? 

Were the Mellow team members correctly wearing PPE (personal protection equipment) such as masks/face coverings and gloves? 

Were you offered a choice of a traditional menu, disposable menu, or digital menu? 


Were the Mellow team members correctly wearing PPE (personal protection equipment) such as masks/face coverings and gloves? 

Did you receive, or were you offered “Curbside pick-up?” 

Was the take-out/pick-up process organized and efficient?

If any question is answered “No,”  guests are provided an Open Comment prompt:

If you would like, please provide any additional details below.


This information will be monitored by your Business Coach and HGI Leadership to identify strengths and opportunities in the system’s safety initiative. If you wish to review the information to assess your store’s safety reputation better, you may view the results of these survey questions in the standard 01 – Summary Report and 02- Detail Report in the Reporting tab of the InMoment site.


On April 15, Mellow Mushroom implemented a temporary online ordering menu reduction, which included an individual location Opt-out option of the Burgers and Hoagie categories. These temporary reductions will expire on Sunday, May 17.

HGI has received numerous requests for these items to be re-implemented and made available again for online ordering. Beginning next Wednesday, May 20, the process of adding select menu items to all Mellow locations online menus will begin.

The item re-implementation schedule will be as follows:

Wednesday May 20, 2020

  • All remaining “Burgers” and “Hoagie” Category Opt-out locations will be re-implemented.
  • The following menu items will be re-implemented to all locations’ OlO sites:
    • Spinach Dip Munchie
    • Magic Mushroom Soup
    • Italian Hoagie (Whole & Half)
    • Meatball Hoagie (Whole & Half)

Wednesday May 27, 2020

  • The following menu items will be re-implemented to all locations’ OlO sites:
    • Chicken Salad Sandwich
    • Country Club Sandwich
    • Meatball Trio Munchie

Please take the opportunity to ensure your locations are prepared with the product and resources needed to effectively execute these items once they are re-implemented to the online ordering menus.

Please Note: The following menu items and menu categories will remain off the online ordering menu at this time; however should be made available for dine-in and call-in To-Go guests: 

  • Categories:
    • Kids Meals
    • Catering
  • Menu Items:
    • Bruschetta Munchie
    • Loaded Chef Salad
    • Tofu Hoagie
    • Mushroom Club Hoagie
    • Avocado Hoagie


  As we have adapted the way we do business during the Covid-19 pandemic, so too have our guests adapted to a different landscape of restaurant “normal”. Curbside service is in its infancy in many ways. Right now, guests are turning to Curbside as their “go to” option, and smart operators will always find a way to make the preference of the guest enjoyable and unique. The main reason that Curbside has gotten such positive responses is because when it comes to the various ways restaurants handle take-out, Curbside does a better job of delivering what guests and restaurants want.


Better Quality
Guests tend to lower their expectations with delivery and take out in general.  Curbside gives the chance for winning a guest with hotter, fresher food and a guest focused transaction. The restaurant is coming to the guest with service, hospitality and food that hasn’t been through yet another person to get to their hands.

Safety First
On the subject of delivery, a third party also means someone else touched the food; had it on the seat of their car, etc. Curbside solves all of the guests’ concerns with third party issues. It comes right from the kitchen to their hands.

Better Profitability
With Online Ordering, your guest orders and pays without any staff involved. Delivery costs don’t get a chance to gnaw at the margin. And having the time to impress a guest with service always yields results when it’s capitalized upon.

In short, approach the Curbside guest the same way you would in your dining room, with exceptional hospitality and service while delivering great food.  The return will be a higher guest frequency with a higher check average.


Reusable Face Masks Option? 

Contact Threds at 865-525-2830 or visit their website at They are now offering customized options.

Disposable Face Mask Option?

Currently Imperial Dade has disposable face masks readily available to ship directly to your location. Orders can be placed with credit card by contacting Amanda Everette at 678-322-4454 or

  • Pack size is 50 each
  • NEW LOWER PRICE – Price is $45.50 which includes shipping


Infrared Thermometer Option?

Option #1 – Dade has received a VERY limited supply of the below infrared thermometers. 
Price – $125 each includes shipping

To order:

  • Complete the credit card authorization form
  • Complete the order form
  • Email them both to Amanda at
  • Questions can be directed to Amanda at 678-322-4454

Deadline for ALL orders is Monday, May 18th at noon EST

Credit Card Authorization Form

Order Form

Option #2 – TriMark has infrared thermometers available on their website. Reference the newly added PPE category. 

Unfortunately, shipment on the current orders have been DELAYED and isn’t expected to arrive at TriMark until the week of 5/18.  If you have any questions or need to adjust your order then contact Katie Bauman at Once they arrive TriMark will ship them directly to your location. 

How can I get hand sanitizer?
Option #1 – Ecolab has the following LIQUID Hand Sanitizer available for anyone interested. Note that your Ecolab account needs to be current for the order to be released. You can contact your Ecolab representative directly to request any outstanding invoices and to make payments.

Please provide as much notice as possible but no less than 4 business days to allow processing and transit time. 

To order, email

Option #2 – TriMark now has inventory of the below product available and has it listed on the website under PPE.  This is a liquid sanitizer.  Please note that other sanitizer options and sizes might be pictured, however, are not available at this time.



As our business model and response to the new normal continues to evolve, we recognize that our LBW sales will be crucial to our success in average check and profitability. This includes our LBW sales for both dine-in and off-premises. Over the past 8 weeks, Mellow Mushroom operators have done an exceptional job in responding to changes in state and local municipalities regarding alcohol sales for off-premise business. As multiple states have signaled that they will work to keep these new allowances in place, an opportunity to extend our Beverage Program outside of the four walls of our restaurants has been established.

What is included in the Off Premises Beverage Program? 

The off-premises beverage program will include multiple initiatives, and participation will vary based on current and future allowances in each state or market. At this time we have two initiatives: Margaritas To Go, which was introduced earlier this month in approximately 40 stores, and OlO Beer & Wine, which will roll out later this month in five states.  

Margarita To Go Results 

We introduced Margaritas as our first cocktail-to-go in all Mellow markets where legally available to coincide with Cinco de Mellow. The program includes both a House Margarita and an RB Margarita made with Casamigos Blanco Tequila.  In just under 2 weeks, the program has generated overall $7,000 in incremental liquor sales and $5,400 in bottom line revenue. Given the initial success of the program, we will be working to expand the program to additional signature Mellow libations! 

OlO Beer & Wine

HGI will be introducing a limited number of Beer & Wine items on the OlO online ordering platform, beginning later this month in approximately 70 stores in 5 Mellow states. These markets have been identified based on pre-Covid, permanent off-premises allowances, as well as several states that are moving towards the implementation of new or updated regulations. These states include Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Florida.

How do I know if my store will be included in these programs? 

Because regulations vary by state, we will be reaching out to stores directly with the details of each program.  If you have immediate questions, please feel free to reach out to

What LBW products will be included?  The specific products for off-premises beverage sales, including OlO Beer & Wine, are a part of the Core 2020 Beverage Program and were selected because they appeal to both a dine-in and off-premises guests. Additional information was included in the Interim Beverage Program Standards.

Interim Beverage Program Standards

What if I am selling LBW for off-premise and my state regulation changes? 

HGI is actively working to track each Mellow state’s regulation for off-premises LBW sales, and will communicate changes as soon as possible.  As we communicated when regulations changed to allow off-premise LBW sales, it is the responsibility of each franchisee to remain up to date regarding changes made by their local alcohol commission.

Products being promoted on the OlO online ordering site for beer, wine, and cocktails-to-go will also be available for dine-in. The cross-utilization of these products ensures that Mellow operators are maximizing their beverage inventory and profit margins.

Who should I contact with questions regarding LBW off-premise sales?  Please reach out to and copy your Beverage Coach for assistance with any questions.


  On social, it is always encouraged to incorporate employees into posts! However, it is important to remember that if you are capturing moments with your staff in operational settings, they must be wearing PPE, and be upholding the standards that you do when a guest comes into your dining room. Here are some examples of some great posts featuring employees in their PPE. 


As communicated in the FAQs on 5.13, beginning Monday May 18th, HGI will be introducing two new packages in the “Meals for Home” category. These packages are designed for larger groups and will be marketed to appeal to “at home” celebrations, including graduations and will be called “Celebrations at Home.”

What are the Celebration at Home packages? 

Celebration at Home for 6-8 : $100 

Feeds 6-8 guests; Includes : 

  • Small Catering Salad (guest’s choice of Caesar or House)
  • 3 Medium Specialty Pies 
  • Mini Brownie Bites (3 brownies, quartered)

$66.86 Average Margin | 33.41% Average COGS

Celebration at Home for 8-10 : $130

Feeds 8-10 guests; Includes : 

  • Small Catering Salad (guest’s choice of Caesar or House)
  • Pretzel Bites with Beer Cheese (2x Recipe)
  • 3 Large Specialty Pies
  • Mini Brownie Bites (3 brownies, quartered)

$87.25 Average Margin | 32.89% Average COGS

What are the POS Keys? Do I need to price them? 

The POS keys for each package are included below. The standard prices will be pushed down to each location, you will not need to price them locally. Please make a note of the key numbers in the event you need to locate them.

878091: $100 Package

​878092: $130 Package

Are the Celebration at Home packages available for Dine In? 

The new packages will not be advertised as available for Dine In, however, it is up to store discretion to honor upon guest request. In this case, we recommend placing the keys on their Store Specialty submenu. 

What special packaging will be used? 

Packaging costs have been included in the financial estimates above. 

They are : 

  • Small Catering Salad – Packaging should follow standards for a small catering salad. You should utilize a 12-inch catering tray and soup container or 10oz plastic container for the salad dressing.
  • Pretzel Bites – Use the current To-Go box and soup container or 10oz plastic container for beer cheese. 
  • Mini Brownie Bites – Use a lunch box with liner.

What action do I need to take? 

Please plan to ensure you have sufficient inventory of food and packaging prior to the go-live on Monday 5/18. 

Will HGI be providing marketing support for these packages?  Yes. HGI will be providing digital assets, including social and email. Additionally, there will be information in upcoming editions of the FAQs on promotional materials for graduation that you will be able to utilize locally.


Is the Gift Card Promotion still going on?

Yes. The promotion includes receiving a $5 bounceback card on your next $10 Mellow Meal when you purchase a $50 or more online gift card through May 31st. The bounceback cards will be valid through July 31st.

Will there be another push to sell Gift Cards before the end of the promotion?

Yes. HGI will do another round of promoting gift cards on social and email. Those dates are TBD.


Is the Free Delivery Promotion Still in Progress?

As a reminder, free delivery for online orders over $50 will run through Sunday May 17. All Mellow Mushrooms with Dispatch will offer guests who order on OlO Free Delivery on all purchases over $50.00. HGI will continue to support the Free Delivery promotion with paid social, paid digital ads, and social media assets. Delivery funding for this promotion is provided through our partnership with Unilever. Please prepare for additional online ordering this weekend, May 15-17, 2020.

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