Above picture features Meemom's "Campire French Toast."
MIDDLETOWN, NJ: Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many business, especially smaller ones that are centered on hospitality and retail, have been struggling to cope locally, state-wide, and nationwide. Middletown’s Meemom’s restaurant has been no exception.
Meemom’s, a breakfast and lunch restaurant/diner with locations in Wall and Brick Townships as well as Middletown; has had to make numerous adaptations and face significant difficulties over these past several months since COVID-19 became one of the dominant issues facing nearly every business.
Susie Dowling, Meemom’s Social Media Coordinator, said that Meemom’s has had to do many things differently because of COVID-19, such as taking away sharable condiments from the dining tables, taking temperatures of all staff members, and temporarily putting any potential business expansion plans on hold.
“Covid-19 has certainly changed the day-to-day operations,” Dowling said. “I think we had hopes of expanding sooner than later, and that needs to be put on a back burner for the moment.”
Another change Meemom’s made, which actually helped the restaurant stay afloat despite COVID-19, was like most restaurants, putting a greater emphasis on take-out, delivery, and other related services than they did before, Dowling said.
“While we always did take out, it wasn’t popular for us”, Dowling said. “Now we are doing take out, online ordering, and door dash-all ways we can reach our customers safely. We were offering outdoor dining at all 3 locations (in the summer), which we hadn’t done before either. We’ve adapted the best we can.”
Dowling also said the transition to having additional take-out options was a bumpy ride at first, but that eventually they were able to get a rhythm going for it.
“I think we thought it would be a lot harder than it actually was, especially take out, since we didn’t really do much of that before,” she said. “It took a good week or so to get it down, knowing how to package things, what sauces and toppings should go on the side, take payments over the phone, etc. It was a tough start, but we got the hang of it in no time.”
Dowling went on to say that that the traditional dine-in model for Meemom’s, which formed the bulk of the business before COVID-19, is now more like an equal partner to the restaurant’s other food services; in part because take out, delivery, and online ordering have become more popular and dine-in less so, and in part because of the dine-in capacity restrictions as a result of COVID-19.
“Our once bustling dining rooms are most certainly a little quieter with most locations capping at about 10 tables,” she said. “Wait times for tables have increased, especially on the weekend, but having more take out options has given our customers more choices to start their day with Meemom’s.”
In addition, Dowling said that some of these adaptations, such as the additional food service options besides dining-in that are now more accessible to customers than before, will likely end up as permanent new features of the business at Meemom’s, which she’s hoping is for the best.
“We’ve tried lots of new things because of covid,” Dowling said. “This is the wave of the future, and as a business owner you always have to adapt to ever-changing practices”.
Furthermore, Dowling said that if Meemom’s is forced to close down again as a result of COVID-19 like it was this past spring, it now has a better feel on how to overcome pandemic related obstacles and continue running a business.
“When we were take-out only, we got a really good system down from food preparation and staff scheduling,” she said. “If we have to go back to that, at least we have a bit of blueprint of how do things.”
In addition, Dowling said Meemom’s is proud to have been able to have so far successfully coped with the obstacles posed by COVID-19.
“Although dealing with Covid is hard, we pride ourselves on showing up and not using it as an excuse,” she said. “We may not be able to sit a full restaurant, but we are doing the best we can by bringing the customers multiple ordering options. Covid has been a hurdle, but every day we are finding new ways to make things a little more ‘normal’ at Meemom’s. We hope our customers can come and escape the everyday chaos, enjoy a hot meal, and forget about Covid for a little while at Meemom’s.
Throughout COVID-19, and even before then, Meemom’s has always emphasized forming meaningful relationships with the larger community, Dowling said.
“We are big community people!,” she said. “We’ve sponsored sports teams, donated gift cards to schools, even sent hot breakfasts to Monmouth Medical during quarantine. (In addition), we have recently donated food to front line workers with our friends at Chocolate Carousel during quarantine, getting hot sandwiches and baked goods to hospital workers on the covid floor.
The community is who made us who we are, the least we can do is give back when we can!
Meemom’s is a breakfast/lunch restaurant that focuses on preparing creative and appealing breakfast meals for customers located in the Jersey Shore area, with a special emphasis on coming up with unique recipes and varieties of French toast, with a “French toast of the month” special each month.
“Our key business function is simple, it’s to provide a new dining experience to our customers,” she said. “We’ve taken something boring and basic like breakfast and put our fun spin on it and making eating out fun again, and I think we’re the only brunch place in Monmouth and Ocean counties really specializing in French toast which makes us stick out to the community. Where else can you get a French toast with Oreos on top or dipped in pancake batter?” Middletown's Meemom's is located in the Shop-Rite plaza.