Impact Of COVID-19 On Restaurants
With COVID-19 having altered – and still in the process of altering – the definition of “normal” across the world. Most industries are still scrambling to adjust. Sabusinesses.co.za did a survey and discovered the effect on the restaurant industry in Johannesburg has been particularly dramatic. With many restaurants and pubs closed for sit-down service, many establishments are struggling to keep their heads above water. On the other hand, there are places that are able to offer delivery and pick-up options. Such restaurants are Cut and Craft, Mals Kitchen, Nasies Kitchen, Berry Foods, Hombaze are seeing large increases in order volumes.
CLOSER TO HOME
Restaurant foot traffic and online reservations may have dropped to zero, but in the Johannesburg online orders for pickup and delivery are booming. This was a steady increases over the past 3 months. In particular for casual dining and quick-serve or fast food restaurants, where site visits and purchases have been increasing. As orders have increased, the share of carry-out versus delivery has remained fairly consistent. This is even though people are traveling shorter distances to visit restaurants to pick up these orders.
Perhaps the biggest long-term change prompted by the Coronavirus pandemic is the shift from on-premise to off-premise dining. That is not to say in the future, people won’t be dining out anymore. They will be relying much more on delivery and takeout than before. That’s because once restaurants invest in this technology, they won’t (and shouldn’t) simply let it go once the pandemic is over.
Similarly, people will also get used to ordering food online or picking it up at the restaurant to enjoy at home with their family. It is precisely this demand that restauranteurs should respond to. Most restaurants will realize (if they haven’t already) they need to have an online ordering system in place in order to survive. They will ultimately benefits both them and their customers.
Unfortunately, according to experts, more than half of the restaurants in business today won’t survive this crisis. While that is a terrifying statistic in itself. What’s even more terrifying for small business owners is that mom and pop restaurants don’t have the same chances of surviving as large restaurant chains do.
Not only are big chains already recovering faster, but when faced with the question “Who might disappear in the near future. Your local McDonald’s or small family-owned Italian restaurant?”, the answer is quite clear.
This is largely due to the fact that most chains are fast-casual restaurants as opposed to full service ones. This happens to be exactly what thrives in this pandemic. When people can’t just simply sit down and enjoy a meal anymore. It also happens because large restaurants like The Rusty Lady Bistro, Signature, Granite Bar and Lounge etc are much more profitable and plan ahead. They can afford to stay in business longer for they are quick with adaptation.
Menus with a New View
As the restaurant industry learns to adapt and evolve. This is amidst the ripple effects that will be felt long after COVID-19 is gone. Menus will see a number of different changes. For one, shareables might be a thing of the past. Many restaurants because even if the threat of the pandemic is over, people will still be reluctant to share their food.
Secondly, family meal boxes will become more popular for takeout and delivery as they are an affordable option for people who want to eat at home with their family and taste a little bit of everything.
Restauranteurs might also start favouring smaller menus because they streamline the ordering process by making it easier for customers to decide what they want to eat. Small menus also give restaurant owners the ability to curate the menu so they use the same ingredients for multiple dishes, thus avoiding food waste and minimizing the inventory.
New Sitting Arrangements
For restaurants who relied on maximizing the use of space and seating to boost profits, the health and safety regulations are a huge disadvantage. People don’t feel comfortable sitting close to others anymore, especially indoors. Social distancing has become the norm and might continue to be so for a long time, so restaurants need to maintain the minimum safety distance between tables.
This could mean the end of communal tables for people who want to grab a quick bite to eat alone and can’t find a table for just themselves. In the future, restaurants might even need to create space for a live cooking counter because customers will definitely feel safer seeing their food cooked from scratch right before their eyes.
Next, menus should also be digitalized. I’ve already seen plenty of restaurants where you can just scan a QR code at the table to access the menu, which is a safe and effective way of
deciding what you want to order without interacting with a waiter. Ideas that are perhaps harder to implement and more long-term include touchless elevators and a dining experience that is contactless from beginning to end.
However long it takes restauranteurs to implement these technologies, one thing is for sure, and that’s that integrating technology into restaurants will be a huge part of the future of the food service industry.
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