ANDERSONVILLE — As businesses struggle to retain customers and keep employees on the payroll, Hamburger Mary’s has come up with a unique solution: enlisting its drag performers to help with the restaurant’s take-out service.
Hamburger Mary’s, Andersonville’s iconic LGBT-friendly restaurant known for its drag performances, is now offering a “drag queen drive-thru” service. From Thursday-Sunday nights, customers ordering take-out from Hamburger Mary’s can have their meal brought to their car by one of the restaurant’s drag performers.
Hosting the drag queen drive-thru is a way for Hamburger Mary’s, 5400 N. Clark St., to attract business and keep its workers on the payroll during what is a tumultuous time for the hospitality industry, restaurant co-owner Ashley Wright said.
“We started doing carry-out like a lot of places. But we’re known for our drag queens,” Wright said. “So we thought it would be fun to incorporate drag queens into it.”
With the mandated closure of dining rooms and bars, hospitality businesses have either had to shutter temporarily or re-tool their business model to keep the doors open.
Since the restaurant industry is forced to operate as carry-out or delivery only, there is now more competition for customers, Wright said. Hamburger Mary’s has always been distinguished by its drag performances, so incorporating the performers into the take-out operation is a way to stand out amongst the competition, he said.
“You can get a burger at a lot of different places,” Wright said. “This is a way to offer entertainment and get an extra value from an order.”
Like many businesses, Hamburger Mary’s has been working to keep as many employees on the payroll as possible. Some restaurants have sought the help of the public via fundraisers, and some have converted to face-mask making to keep employees busy. Wright said the drag queen drive-thru helps his regular servers and performers work some extra shifts.
“It’s giving them an opportunity to make some money, and it gives them something to do,” he said.
Businesses are getting creative to keep the doors open, but the measures are unlikely to supplement dining room service, Wright said.
“This whole crisis has pretty much wiped out our business,” he said. “Carry out and delivery, it basically just pays for itself. But it helps pay employees and move some product.”
And while establishments like Hamburger Mary’s think of unique ways to keep customers, Wright said he is happy to be able to put smiles on people’s faces during this trying time.
“It just brightens people’s days,” he said of the drag queen drive-thru.
Hamburger Mary’s drag queen drive-thru is available from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Sunday and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Those ordering pick-up can call the restaurant when they are outside, and a performer will bring out the meal.
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