The restaurant business after COVID-19

      Amid a growing world pandemic, everything in foodservice is about to change rapidly!  It is plausible that one-third of restaurants that existed in January of  2020 will go out of business by the end of the year. Some will never reopen, once this virus is under control. It will just be too hard, financially, as well as from the supply chain perspective, to get business back to normal. Some experts think it could even be worse, according to a New York Times article from March. “Restaurant analysts and operators have been quoting an estimate that 75 percent of the independent restaurants that have been closed to protect Americans from the coronavirus won’t make it.” *1
      The complete closure of nearly every establishment, to control social gatherings and deflate the spread of COVID-19, will highlight the alternatives for how we entertain ourselves around food and the dinner table.  Just as this pandemic is highlighting the failures in our healthcare system, we're beginning to see problems in food production and distribution.  The sit-down dinner house is never going to be the same.
     The entire business model of dining out at a sit-down restaurant has been undergoing minor changes over the past several decades. Casual dining has taken over a majority of slower-paced and higher-end 'fine-dining' concepts. Fast-food operators have cashed in on drive-through, and now every foodservice operator is going to need to examine drive-up, delivery, and prepackage meals to go. As many restaurateurs' are now struggling to offer to take out alternatives, curb-side pick up and learning that it's not a simple thing to do. Packaging can be expensive, and many menu items do not travel well.  There needs to be a new approach to your entire
. menu.

Some ideas you need to consider:

> Seating will likely involve distancing tables to create space, possibly allowing you only half your existing seating capacity. 

> Stagger seating times, with fewer tables.  You may want to have two or three seatings in limited space, i.e. a 5:30, 7:00 and 8:30 seating, creating a safe space with guests.

> Purchase a merchandising cooler display for pre-packaged meals complete with sides and in oven-proof containers.

> Add a drive-up or walk-up window for pre-orders

> Get a software update on your POS or find an APP to take orders without having to have one person just to answer the phone.

       I have extensive knowledge in planning menus, packaging and Point-of-Sale systems for take-home foods. If you've read this far, thanks.  Give me a call and I will gladly offer 20 minutes or so of free conversation. 530-263-7763 or use the contact form to indicated a best time for me to call you.

See Ambrosia Blog for related articles on Take-out, home meal replacement, and other topics


​Read what other experts are saying:

Some additional input from Fishbowl- April 20

The Industry is Adapting

Jayne Strickland, SVP Analytics Services
Ted Babcock, VP Analytics Services
Leaders of Fishbowl’s Consumer Research,

Menu Optimization, and Pricing Analytics Practices


Restaurants have quickly repositioned business models, menus, service modes, engagement strategies, and promotions.  Some have modified their concepts to emulate grocers, while others have developed meal kits akin to those offered by Blue Apron or Hello Fresh. They have created make-shift drive-thrus, added curbside pick-up, or expanded delivery services. Technology is quickly enabling online ordering and delivery channels. We are seeing increased frequency of messaging through emails (check our biweekly blog for latest tips), online, mobile platforms, and SMS messaging.  Operators have upped community support with free or discounted meals to healthcare workers, first responders, or their at-risk communities. Some have limited their menus to items best suited for take-out and delivery, or developed bundles merchandised as family meals. This abrupt metamorphosis reveals new solutions that may very likely have a lasting influence on future business models and consumer expectations. These quick-turn innovations and lessons-learned are likely to find a permanent place in the industry.

Read the  whole Article from Fishbowl

~Writer Dan Levy, of Schitt’s Creek fame, said "Wardrobe is probably the most important element in storytelling outside writing of the script”.  Just as your ingredients and recipe are telling a story, the presentation is nearly as important to the whole development of your food concept. ~

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