Instead of capitalising on the easing of lockdown restrictions from Level 5 to Level 4 and rushing back into their various Cape Town kitchens, the Mother City’s oldest pizza delivery service has taken a far more measured, responsible route for the sake of public health and safety. Butler’s Pizza will open its Rondebosch outlet for beta testing of its new social distancing delivery model, before rolling out the learnings and successes to its other area branches.
The popular regional chain currently services the City Bowl, N1 City, Bellville, Tableview, Newlands and Wynberg, in addition to its Rondebosch branch. All the Butlers Pizza kitchens are already “dark” (the term used to describe a delivery-only restaurant) and have been since the company’s inception. Established in 1989, the business is the oldest delivery-only model in the country and is thus well-poised to successfully navigate the constraints of trade within Level 4, where online ordering and home delivery of hot food are allowed.
Butler’s Pizza is busy enrolling its senior management staff in up-to-the-minute new training modules designed to optimize the running of a kitchen during a pandemic, while still maintaining the necessary social distancing. This reskilling programme will be conducted virtually by the renowned Silwood School of Cookery.
The new training venture with Silwood – which has been dubbed the “Silwood Butlerversity” – extends the ongoing collaboration between the venerated cooking institute and the much-loved pizza brand. The secret tomato sauce that seasons the Butler’s base, for instance, was developed in the Silwood kitchens.
Established 56 years ago, Silwood is the oldest cooking school in South Africa. It is accredited locally by the Government Department of Higher Education and Training, the QCTO Council and the South African Chefs Association. Internationally, it is affiliated with the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Association Mondiale de la Gastronomie, which headquarters in Paris, France and the World Association of Chefs Societies.
It is known for producing the country’s top cooks and fine dining chefs such as Ash Heeger, Wesley Randles, Katlego Mlambo, James Gaag, Annalise Sainsbury and many, many others. Silwood’s superlative standards will ensure that not only are all the required health and safety precautions met, but that they are done so with best practice and a premium outcome in mind.
“We’re taking this approach,” explains Butler’s Pizza Founder Robert Wilkinson, “because we’re putting people first – our staff and our customers. We will operate to the highest industry standards in order to ensure that our kitchens and our team of Butlers in no way contribute to the spread of the virus. The last thing we want to see is the Western Cape being plunged back into Level 5 Lockdown after the enormous sacrifices that have been made already, by so many. We want to give our customers absolute peace of mind that when they order a pizza from us, they are getting the very best product produced with the very best protocols in place.”
“We have taken the unpopular decision to hold back on the delivery of pizza until the highest level of health and safety standards can be implemented,” Wilkinson continues. “This means fully re-modelling the kitchens and partnering with Silwood Kitchen to fine tune all safety systems. We make, bake and deliver 365 days a year, and the last day we were closed was on 1 January 2000, for Y2K. Butler’s Pizza has now been in shutdown for five weeks! We will reopen for our next uninterrupted 20-year pizza making cycle as soon as – and not before – we are completely safe and ready to do so!”
Butler’s Pizza will send an SMS to customers to notify them when the ovens are fired up, informing them how to place orders via the new system. To order a Butler’s Pizza, customers will still be able to call in their orders, but they will need to download the free Apps Telegram and Snapscan in order to “enroll” themselves in the Butlerversity’s essential customer training in the new health and safety delivery protocols as well as enable contactless, cashless payment. Both delivery butlers and eager customers will need to observe strict social distancing contactless protocols too.
“Our service with a smile will continue,” affirms Wilkinson. “Whereas before it was ‘Call, order and enjoy!’ now it’s ‘Call, download, order and enjoy!’ – a small change in consumer behavior is required, but it is no doubt one that will bring everyone peace of mind as we all continue to fight the spread of the Novel Coronavirus.”
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