The Industry Reset: What’s Next?

53% of adults say purchasing takeout or delivery food is “essential to the way they live, and 68% are more likely to purchase takeout or delivery food than they were before the pandemic,” according to data from the National Restaurant Association’s State of the Industry report released in January.

For decades, the food delivery space was dominated by pizza and Chinese. However, in recent years, delivery apps have quickly grown in popularity, making it possible to have meals delivered from any type of restaurant. Services like Grubhub, DoorDash, Uber Eats, and others available locally. Digital ordering and delivery has been growning 300 percent faster than sit down restaurants since 2014 and that trend seems unlikely to slow in a slowly reopening post pandemic economy.

Food and Wine Magazine interviewed chefs, restaurant owners, and front/back of house staff. One chef stated, “We can’t keep running this traditional model, the food and labor costs, and the pressure put on people,” he says. “I hope that restaurant owners, and everyone working in restaurants, is using this as a time to evaluate how to come back to it.”

Community activism and outreach is going to be an important part of this new phase for restaurants. This isn’t just in the form of marketing grabs, but genuine outreach to their community, with engaging ideas tailored to them.

““Damn, we have to create an atmosphere where our staffs feel like family and our customers feel like they are home cozy and relaxing by the their hearth; make food that is both nutritious, creative, and delectable; force our suppliers to begin to solve climate change with new and innovative sustainable solutions; be political fighters in the human rights movement; and we have to make money. Sounds like a breeze.””

— Ron Goodman, Chef at Ivy City Smokehouse

This countries COVID-19 experience has spawned a greater sense of community. Businesses that find a way to tap into that will tend to experience greater consumer loyalty. It isn’t all about price anymore. People are willing to pay more to support local, because they are used to paying more for things like GrubHub, UberEats, and Doordash anyway.

According to FSR, “In our new post-pandemic world we can expect to see staff score carding current and potential employers on their sanitization and safety practices. This could be a real determining factor in where people choose to work. There is a limit to how much risk people are willing to take.”

Employees coming in sick being a sign of a good employee is going to become a thing of the past. As it should, in some peoples opinion. When an employee doesn’t feel well, encourage them to stay home. It’s in everyone’s best interest, especially when it comes to food service.

In fact, 9 in 10 employees admit going to work sick, according to new research from global staffing firm Accountemps, a Robert Half company.

They do it despite warnings that by coming to work, they risk infecting others, who can go home and infect their families. The data also shows employees ages 25 to 40 reported going to work sick than respondents of other ages. People tend to do this out of fear of consequences when under review or a simple lack of days off.

Michael Steinitz, senior executive director of Accountemps, says, “Bosses should set an example by taking time off when they’re under the weather, encouraging employees to do the same and offering those with minor ailments the ability to work from home.”

This new normal might not feel so normal at first. We are going to have to adjust our mindsets and work mentalities. We will eventually see what new social norms stick around and which fall into obscurity. What counts most is an open mind and a flexible business mentality.

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