As COVID-19 has ravaged the United States – as well as the rest of the world – many businesses were forced to shut down. As the world slowly begins to re-open, restaurants have been perhaps the most controversial business topic. Employing more than 15 million people, the foodservice industry closure left many unemployed and completely changed many people’s lives. Now that they have some downtime from the hustle and bustle of the kitchen, a few chefs made their predictions about what future changes to the restaurant industry may look like. Many were hopeful about the potential industry-wide changes.
1. Emptier Dining Rooms
Restaurant experts believe we will not see packed dining rooms for a long time while people are still scared of coming in close contact with others. Small family businesses may have a harder time keeping their doors open, which is why it is so important to support your local businesses. Food delivery services will pick up and remain at the top of the food industry for the foreseeable future. However, many people are feeling anxious about being stuck in quarantine for so long, so they will be ready to venture out and visit their favorite restaurants. For a while, dine-in will likely be hit or miss.
2. Greater Appreciation for Restaurants
Many chefs are confident that diners will have a newfound respect for the restaurant industry after having been forced to try new recipes and new ways of dining during the quarantine. Some of the things people were craving take days to actually prepare in the restaurants, it was certainly eye-opening for those who attempted to make their beloved menu items on their own. This may be the first time that many people are realizing just how important the hospitality industry is, and how often they rely on the service industry in their everyday lives. With that, however, people will still be hesitant to go out to eat around a crowd of people, so restaurants need to be at the top of their game and make people want their services bad enough to sit down and dine in.
3. Virtual Restaurant Experiences
Future changes to the restaurant industry could consist of becoming more creative with how they offer their guests safer dining experience. Chef Barbara Lynch is already working on “virtual cooking demonstrations and classes” but she knows that probably isn’t enough. “Can we create a virtual restaurant concept that can be a partner business to our traditional concepts?” she wonders. If restaurants are unable to take care of others in person, a new way has to be incorporated to keep them in business.
4. “Ghost Kitchens”
Delivery-only concepts may become a more sought-after business as diners would rather have their favorite restaurant meals away from the public. Further, many restaurants may combine with others to save on utility costs and increase revenue. This could be a good use of the space restaurants already have.
5. More Flexibility
Many restaurants only offered a limited to-go menu, but now they will increase the carry-out options or even offer the entire menu to go. Presentation on carry-out items was not a high priority for kitchens in the past, but now that many will be relying almost solely on carry-out orders it will become a major focal point. Further, we often see our favorite chain restaurants (i.e. PF Chang’s, Cheesecake Factory) offering some of their more popular seasonings or dishes for sale in grocery stores, other restaurants will likely try to get in on that as well.
6. Technological Solutions
While restaurants are currently using single-use menus to prevent guests from having to touch menus already used by others, this is not feasible forever. Future possibilities for menus include QR codes to scan with your phone in order to access the restaurant’s menu online. This could potentially help limit touch exposure for a safer dining experience.
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