COVID-19 dealt a devastating blow to food services. Around the world, restaurants of all types and sizes had to close their doors to diners as the virus zipped through populations. For a long time, businesses were only allowed to serve take-out orders.
Even after they opened for delivery and pick up, the industry suffered. In the United States, more than half of restaurant owners revealed that they have taken on at least $50,000 debt due to the crisis. They were earning less or not due to the lockdowns, but they still have staff and bills to pay. Moreover, food delivery apps, which became a popular way for people to place their orders, take a chunk of the pay.
The food industry has been changed irrevocably over the past year. The pandemic is still not over but, even if it is, some shifts and trends will never go away.
Buffets Not Dead, But They Have Changed
In the past year, several publications warned of the death of buffet-style dining. They pointed out that the way the food is served may lead to infections.
However, now that restrictions have been lifted, buffet-style restaurants are back, proving once and for all that they can survive, and there is a market for them in the post-pandemic. Entrepreneurs who want to venture into the business should not worry that the global public health crisis killed the demand for eating in a buffet. But, there are changes.
While many still use chafing dish sets to serve meals buffet-style, in restaurants, there are servers to scoop a portion of the food onto a diner’s plate. It is reminiscent of going to a school cafeteria for lunch, but it improves hygiene. There will be no sharing of equipment. Only one person will get to hold the serving spoon. It also discourages people from coming into contact with food which is a possibility when no one is around to monitor.
Others make sure to keep the restaurant clean by providing plastic gloves to diners. Utensils are also washed and disinfected more often. Many have also opened for reservations to control the number of people coming into the premises.
In terms of demand, people are joyed to see their favorite buffet-style restaurants reopen. Across the country, from Vegas to Chicago, people are lining up to dine to their heart’s content.
Better Protection for Workers
Workers in the food industry are essential. While everyone else was permitted to work from the safety of their homes, restaurant servers and cooks had to risk their safety to fulfill food orders.
They, therefore, deserve to be paid fairly. Many restaurants across the country are already struggling to fill job openings. People who work in restaurants quit because of low pay.
The industry would not run and survive the pandemic without restaurant workers. Recuperating from the losses of the past year would not be possible without their hard work.
Workers should be protected and be treated with dignity, starting with giving them a livable wage.
Online Orders Will Remain
People have gotten used to ordering online and eating at home. It was safe and convenient for them. In fact, one survey revealed that 53 percent of all adults believe that food delivery and takeout are essential to the way they live. Expect the trend to continue for years to come.
Restaurants have to improve the to-go team and processes to provide customers with the best possible experience and to ensure that the food they order is on par with the quality served in-store.
However, restaurants might want to find ways to nudge their customers away from food delivery apps. While these apps have been a lifeline during the pandemic, they charge fees that reduce the restaurant’s earnings. Uber Eats, for example, takes a 30 percent fee for delivery unless the restaurant negotiates a lower rate. Restaurants will want better control of their revenue, especially now that they are trying to rebuild after the pandemic.
More restaurants will come up with ways to get customers to pick up the food themselves instead of ordering in via a food delivery app. The past year has also seen curbside pickup become a popular way to shop, so this alternative should be continued after the pandemic.
The restaurant industry has gone through a tough year because of COVID-19. Now, however, it has a chance to recover. However, expect some things to be different compared to how things were before the pandemic. Some trends were born during lockdowns last year and will continue to exist in the post-pandemic world.