It feels like just about every aspect of the world has changed because of COVID-19, and restaurants are no exception. At the height of the pandemic in early March, sales across restaurant types in the US were down by 79%.
By June, restaurant sales have risen to 30% below COVID-19 levels. Many people thought restaurants were going to disappear, but thankfully they were wrong! As regions gradually re-open, people are hungry to eat out.
However, things are not the same. Here is a look at how dining out has changed.
The Development of Take-Out
Even before COVID-19, restaurants that didn’t historically offer delivery were increasingly turning to ride-share companies to help them deliver food. Restaurants could effectively outsource their drivers.
In hindsight, what was thought to be a trend was more like a trial run. Now, restaurants are pivoting in serious ways. Since March, delivery-related roles have spiked by more than 50%, and they’ve risen by another 40% in the months since.
Restaurants have given their customers the options of pickup, delivery, or, new for COVID-19, curbside pickup. In this final option, people order food online or by phone, drive to the restaurant, and have the food brought directly to their car.
Changing the Model
Ever since takeout became a lifeline instead of a luxury, takeout options have expanded in ways that would have been hard to imagine before the pandemic. Now, some businesses let customers order meal kits, so they can prepare the raw ingredients into a meal they cook at home.
Some restaurants offer meal-box subscriptions, so customers pay an upfront fee and have food items they select shipped to their door. Running a restaurant has required some bold thought and some creativity, but restaurateurs are making it work.
The margins in the restaurant industry have always been narrow. Consulting restaurant market research can give you important survival tips. While recovering from the pandemic, software that helps managers keep the books healthy is invaluable.
Tech-savvy restaurants rely on scheduling software to get better schedules in up to 80% less time than it would otherwise take to create. The time your employees get back results in a direct labor cost savings of 1-3%, historically one of the biggest drains on a restaurant.
Plus, with smart communication tools that keep all team members naturally connected, managers will be able to adjust to changes on the fly. For example, if a last-minute replacement is needed for a shift, managers can notify the relevant team and find a replacement instantly.
The employees will get a notification, and whoever is free to take the shift can message the group. This way, the software quickly solves a problem that could have potentially ruined a shift.
If you’re running a restaurant, or even if you’d like to eat at one, it’s essential to follow local health experts’ recommendations. COVID-19 does not have a vaccine, and nothing is more important than society’s collective health. But sharing a great meal is one of the most civilized things people can do — the industry may adapt to changing conditions. Still, the restaurant business is here to stay.