A time to innovate?
The restaurant industry hasn't seen this level of upheaval since perhaps the dawn of fast food. The ongoing pandemic has been devastating to most business sectors, but food and hospitality has been especially hard hit. Despite all this, it's been inspiring to see some creative owners and chefs try new business models to adapt, and even thrive, during these trying times.
One particular pain point has been the cost of reopening a restaurant in a pandemic. According to an in-depth article on Eater, restaurants have had to spend thousands of dollars just to reopen and restock after temporary closures. That's not to mention rehiring furloughed or laid-off staff, which adds to the expense, just to maybe reshutter due to new COVID spikes in certain cities. How can some locations avoid the cost of reopening and rehiring?
Enter "ghost food halls," where several chefs and staff from neighboring restaurants will form a make-shift outdoor food hall. By joining forces with others in the community, they can share customers, defray costs, and band together, in general, to stay open, stay in business, and operate at a profit when foot traffic is almost non-existent.
Another innovation that owners should consider? Non-refundable deposits for reservations. With public sentiment about dining out ever-shifting, reports out of the UK (where restaurants have not re-closed) show frequent patron no-shows. These empty seats are devastating to restaurants already struggle at 25-50% capacity. One potential solution is to implement deposits for reservations. Another could be to implement automated texts to confirm reservations; if they don't text back, it's canceled. No-shows are a problem that needs to be addressed ASAP when seating is at an all-time premium.
The Takeaway: After September 11th, airports had to completely change their layout to accommodate the new safety guidelines. The restaurant industry is in a similar situation with an even more prevalent disaster. But those that take the opportunity to innovate will come out on top.
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Robert Woo is a freelance content creator for various companies from startup to enterprise-level. When not writing SEO-friendly articles, he writes and performs comedy, plays guitar, and champions the Oxford comma.