Customers craving takeout can save time by following a few quick tips before ordering from their favorite local restaurant.

Each restaurant typically has its own system for to-go orders, said Stephanie Otterson, director of communications for the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association in Harrisburg.

She recommends visiting a restaurant’s website, or its social media feed, before placing an order.

“Some of the menu items may have changed,” Otterson said.

Barb Osilka, owner of Apple Street Deli in Ringtown, said her family-owned business offers curbside pickup that minimizes contact, and also offers delivery.

“When they call in, we’ll ask if they want drinks, chips or lottery tickets, or want to add anything to their order,” she said. “We give them a time limit. We kindly tell them to wait outside, and we’ll bring it all out to them.”

Cash or credit is accepted by Apple Street Deli.

Although Osilka’s business offered takeout and delivery before the coronavirus pandemic, the deli has adapted by offering additional takeout containers for its homemade food items, she said. The deli offers soups, pasta salads, sandwiches and hoagies and has provided bagged lunches for large local employers.

If customers have a large order, they may want to consider calling earlier to give the restaurant more lead time.

Barbara Osilka, owner of Apple Street Deli, prepares subs in her restaurant’s kitchen in Ringtown on Monday, June 1, 2020. Apple Street Deli is currently open for takeout and delivery.


Otterson recommends avoiding use of a third-party app, like Door Dash or Yelp. A restaurant may not know that it’s on one of those apps, and the menu selection may not have been updated there recently, she said.

Restaurants have been offering pickup and delivery options during the pandemic, and establishments located in the yellow re-opening phase will be able to offer outdoor dining beginning Friday, Otterson noted.

Osilka said Apple Street Deli will have bistro tables outside for customers who want to stay to eat their meals.

It’s an example of how restaurants try to accommodate customers’ preferences, Otterson said.

“The name of the game is to make them happy, so they keep coming back,” she said.

According to PRLA, there were 25,846 eating and drinking establishments in Pennsylvania that generated $21.5 billion in projected sales in 2017.


Condiments and cash

Some additional tips from Stephanie Otterson, director of communications for the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association:

Customers may want to have a condiment or dressing on the side. Just ask, she said.

Customers should check payment options. Some restaurants have gone contact-less and accept only credit cards, while others are still accepting cash.