6 Restaurant Priorities In The Post-Pandemic World
A little more than a year ago, the pandemic crippled the restaurant industry. Lockdown restrictions prevented restaurants from allowing customers to dine indoors or severely restricted their ability to offer in-house dining.
Restaurants were forced to adapt by offering take-out and delivery services. New restaurant concepts were introduced. Customers continued to order out and enjoy food from their favorite restaurants. Consumer behavior changed.
1. Restaurant Food Delivery
Restaurant delivery services will continue to be a priority in the post-pandemic world. Delivery sales soared during the pandemic for restaurants. In-house and third-party delivery services were the lifeline for restaurants, and customers enjoyed the convenience of this option.
Customers will return to in-house dining eventually — when they feel safe. But even after we reach a point where we’re not even thinking about being indoors with other people, there will still be customers that will want restaurant delivery.
Delivery is convenient. Pizza restaurants have proven that delivery can be successful, and restaurants offering this service give them more options.
In a post-pandemic world, restaurants need to continue to focus on:
- Offering online ordering in-house or through a third party
- Offering delivery service as well as curbside or to-go
Delivery will continue to play an important role in the restaurant industry’s future.
2. Food Waste Recycling
In a post-pandemic world, many restaurants will be looking at how to reduce food waste. The pandemic has put a serious strain on restaurants, and it will take years to recover. Reducing food waste will not only cut down on costs but will also help reduce the restaurant’s environmental impact.
Food waste accounts for 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. It also accounts for one-third of the cost of running a restaurant, so cutting back on this cost is an effective way to increase profits.
There are several ways to reduce food waste:
- Investing in on-site food storage
- Investing in new equipment
- Training staff
Equipment failures, refrigeration malfunction, and staff error can all contribute to food waste. Investing in better processes and new equipment can help improve profits by reducing food waste.
Taking advantage of technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices allows you to monitor food storage and optimize settings to make your storage solutions more effective.
Finding ways to cut back on food waste — and all waste — will not only help restaurants increase profits, but will also help reduce their environmental impact.
3. Ghost Kitchens and Virtual Kitchens
The pandemic’s lockdown restrictions gave rise to the ghost kitchen concept. Ghost kitchens are restaurants without dining space. They exist purely for fulfilling delivery orders either through third-party services, or their own operations. They essentially have no storefront because they have no need for one (hence the name ghost kitchen).
Virtual kitchens are another concept that came out of the pandemic, and they are similar to ghost kitchens (but not exactly the same). These are, essentially, restaurants within restaurants.
For example, Applebee’s launched its Cosmic Wings virtual kitchen. The brand operates out of Applebee’s, but it’s a completely separate entity. Some virtual kitchens are using a parent company’s existing kitchen to operate (like with Applebee’s). Other virtual kitchen concepts are partnering with other restaurants and using them as operators.
New restaurants will want to consider virtual kitchen and ghost kitchen concepts when fleshing out their ideas. Both of these concepts offer a lower cost of entry and require fewer staff and resources to run.
4. Energy Optimization Solutions
In a post-pandemic world, restaurants will also want to focus on how to reduce energy consumption. Food waste is a big problem for restaurants. It eats into profits, and it hurts the environment. But energy waste is just as big of a problem.
Electricity accounts for up to 5% of a restaurant’s operating costs. Even reducing energy use by 20% produces savings equivalent to increasing sales by 5%.
Refrigeration accounts for more than 40% of restaurant energy costs, so investing in energy-efficient refrigeration can help cut back on costs significantly.
Reducing energy costs will help improve profits. Technology, like IoT, can help you monitor the performance of your equipment and help you find ways to cut back on costs without having to make significant investments in new equipment.
5. Greater Focus on Drive-Thru and Curbside
After the pandemic, restaurants will need to focus more on how they deliver their food products to customers. Building designs may change to reflect these changes.
Focusing on curbside and drive-thru options can help restaurants continue to thrive as we move into the post-pandemic world.
6. Being Prepared for Future Disruptions
Hopefully, the world won’t have to deal with another global pandemic anytime soon. But restaurants will still want to be prepared for future disruptions — whatever they may be.
During the pandemic, supply chain disruptions became a big issue for restaurants. Delivery delays made it even harder for restaurants to deliver food to their customers.
Restaurants need to have plans for handling supply chain disruptions. They can happen again in the future, and a pandemic may not necessarily be the cause.
The pandemic has reshaped the restaurant industry, and many changes, like delivery, will continue to drive sales for the foreseeable future. But as we transition into a post-pandemic world, restaurants will have to shift their priorities. These six things will become a major focus for restaurants that want to remain successful in the coming years after the pandemic.