Covid 19 drastically changed the way restaurants all over the world are being run.
It pushed food service owners to adapt quickly to the unexpected bleak scenario by adopting technology which required no touch, the shift of services to mostly outdoor dining and delivery services, and the reduction of staffing needs and the redesign of menus.
2020 ended with restaurant industry sales in the USA below by $240 billion of the figure expected before the pandemic happened. More than 110,000 restaurants and bars closed on a permanent or a temporary basis. They combined both for a decrease of 2.5 million industry jobs when compared to the pre-Covid 19 level. At the peak period of the pandemic, approximately 8 million restaurant staff were either furloughed or laid off.
At present, 62 percent of fine dining establishments and 54 percent of casual and family dining outlets relayed that their staff population is 20 percent below the pre-pandemic level.
It seems working in a restaurant will not be a favorite entry level job for youngsters for now because there are 2 million fewer crew in the 16 to 34 year old bracket, who are presently employed in the industry.
But there is very strong pent up demand for restaurants and customers say they really crave for dining in experiences. They also add that they can’t copy with satisfaction through home cooking the taste and flavor delight that they get from dining in. But they have become used to takeout but long for the day when dining in will be the norm again.
The restaurant industry stakeholders have taken bold moves in order to sustain their operations:
1) Contactless Delivery is a must.
Since a large chunk of restaurant sales come from takeout services at present and in the foreseeable future, methods of delivery wherein there is no human contact required are being applied.
The ordered food is paid online. No cash payments are allowed. Food preparation should be done with the chef and the cooks all wearing masks and protective gear. The food is then prepared by outlet staff also with masks and disposable gloves and given to a delivery courier who makes sure to put the delivered items on a clean surface before the customer gets them.
2) The Extensive Use of Restaurant Reservation Software.
Because of the increased competition among restaurants to attract dine in patrons, the owners have been looking for restaurant reservation software and table management system to be able to beat the requirements for the decreased maximum occupancy of restaurants at any one time.
One such powerful and functional software is the Eatapp. It is used worldwide and is flexible in its capabilities to be used at both large and small restaurants with internet connections.
Eatapp increases your bookings with just the pressing of buttons and encoding of information on the app by customers. It is warm hospitality and service demonstrated on an online level. When you use Eatapp, you get more orders, get higher than average sales, and retain more loyal customers because of its efficiency.
3) Robot Waiters and Tablet Devices
The trend now in technologically advanced dining outlets is the use of robot waiters. They are operated through tablet devices.
There are robots who can each deliver to 4 tables at any one time. 2 robot waiters can already meet the requirements of a 50 to 60 table restaurant by intelligent positioning and also by interacting with each other on the division of labor. They safely deliver the food from the kitchen to the customers and they are sanitized daily.
They are also restaurant options for contactless delivery.
4) Takeout is Everything Now
Customers spent about $770 billion in 2020 and 63 percent of that was for Takeout. The orders were placed online, from the restaurant website, an app or a third party platform. Takeout made it much easier for people to be able to consume their meals, wherever they are.
The trend is expected to continue, so restaurants are going to rebuild their brick and mortar infrastructure by making smaller establishments but bigger kitchens, fewer in house waiter crew, more delivery and kitchen staff.
5) Stricter Hygiene Measures
The restaurant staff should be reoriented and retrained with stricter hygiene practices. When working with food, they must wash their hands often. They must wear head covering, enveloping all of their hair. For food processing and dishwashing, protective aprons must be worn at all times. Waiters should always have masks on and if possible, face shields.
The restaurant industry is one of the hardest hit industries by the pandemic. It has a long way to go to the glory days of more than 1 year ago. But the recent evolutions in trends in the industry will ensure its sustainability in the years to come.