Cantina 76 mixing up marketing strategy amid closures.

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If you are stuck inside your house for weeks, why not fix yourself a restaurant-quality margarita?

That's one of the marketing ideas being bandied about by the owners of Cantina 76 and Za's on Devine. With a Tuesday order from S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster's closing restaurant dining rooms statewide in response to the new coronavirus outbreak, restaurant owners are brainstorming new business strategies.

"Hopefully by the weekend, we're going to be looking at some creative marketing opportunities, whether it's taco survival packs or some at-home margarita recipe packs," said Chad Elsey, part of the four-person ownership group of Za's and S.C.'s five Cantina 76 locations, including two in Columbia. "If this continues to go on, we want to be prepared and take advantage of it and maximize it. If to-go only dining is the new normal for however long, then we want to facilitate that and be as good as we can at offering that to our customers."

Like all other restaurants in the state, Cantina 76's Main Street and Devine Street locations, as well as Za's at 2930 Devine St., had to transition to curbside pickup and to-go orders on Wednesday.

"It was a pretty good day at most locations," Elsey said. "We're still kind of getting the word out. I think there is some initial shock in the community, and some safety concerns with just leaving your house in general. A lot of people are not at their jobs and going out lunch maybe like they normally would. We're hoping it can keep us afloat in the near future."

Elsey said that to-go orders typically make up 10% to 20% of the restaurants' business. The goal, he said, is to ramp that up to 25% to 50%.

"We're fortunate with these two concepts that they actually do translate to to-go concepts pretty well," he said. "Mexican food is obviously very easy to pack up, and people can eat it at any time of day. They like it for lunch, they like it for dinner, they like it on the weekends. It's affordable. The same with Za's. Za's menu, some of the items are a little more challenging, so they might have to have a little more of a limited menu there, but everyone loves pizza to go."

As for the option of purchasing gift cards, Elsey...

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