How the Coronavirus Pandemic Has Changed The Future of The Restaurant Industry

In the past three months, our country has faced more challenges, setbacks, and hardships than we could have ever planned for. From illness, loss of life, unemployment, isolation, and fighting racial injustices – 2020 has been a year for the history books. 

With all setbacks, however, come lessons learned and changes for the future. While most corporate companies are starting to implement major changes in remote work policies, another industry we’re all very familiar with has dramatically altered their business models as well – the restaurant industry. From the very start of the pandemic, we saw a quick shift in how restaurants were operating. And as our country begins to reopen slowly but surely, we’re still seeing different policies being implemented in every state within the industry. 

This begs the question, what will the restaurant industry look like after the pandemic? 

Sadly, the industry will look a lot smaller than it did at the beginning of the year. It’s estimated that 30,000 have already shut their doors for good and 100,000 more will follow suit, according to the National Restaurant Association

As we’ve seen an uptick in takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery options for restaurants, we’ll likely see this continue permanently in the future. Many restaurants that weren’t available on delivery apps such as Grubhub, Uber Eats, and DoorDash before the pandemic are now feeling the pressure to join these apps to increase revenue in lieu of dine-in operations. And while it’s not making up for previous sales, it’s keeping thousands of restaurants afloat during financial distress.  Even with mass job loss, some people are eager to support local restaurants in their area by ordering out more than normal. Americans are spending upwards of $1,500 on takeout annually which equates to just over $100 a month, according to a study by Simple. Thrifty. Living.  

Gloves, face masks, and disposable menus are also the latest introductions to the restaurant industry that we’ll likely become more familiar with as restaurants start to reopen their dining rooms. We’ll likely see lower-priced menu items, more specials to stimulate revenue, and fewer “shareable” foods for sanitary purposes. Packaging for takeout and delivery foods has changed tremendously to prevent tampering and retain the quality of the food being consumed. 

Many folks post-pandemic will still feel wary or anxious about the dine-in experience, which has experts saying the future of the restaurant industry will be takeout and delivery. 

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