While COVID-19 hit several industries hard over the past two years, restaurants arguably bore the brunt of the disruption. Governments imposed strict restrictions on in-person dining, large delivery apps levied steep commission fees, and sit-down liquor sales plummeted.
As the world enters “the new normal,” restaurateurs are understandably looking for ways to recoup losses, build back up, and – with any luck – thrive in the future.
This article has assembled insights from industry surveyors like McKinsey, BDC and Go Daddy, as well as solutions-oriented companies like REEF, to offer four restaurateur tips for thriving in the new normal.
Consider a Delivery Kitchen Concept
If you’re like most restaurateurs, you’ve recently wondered: what’s a ghost kitchen, and why are they so popular all of a sudden? You can learn more in the link provided, but the gist is simple – ghost kitchens are kitchens that prepare food solely for delivery, without a sit-down dining space. While the concept works for some restaurateurs, a better model is REEF’s “delivery kitchen” concept.
Like the ghost restaurant concept, these restaurants prepare food solely for delivery. Unlike ghost kitchens, REEF’s kitchens do not enforce high monthly fees and rent costs.
You can expand your restaurant’s brand throughout REEF’s extensive network with minimal overhead. It’s a convenient way for restaurants to grow in the new normal without investing in brick-and-mortar space.
Focus on Safety, Comfort and Care
Last year, McKinsey published research on adapting customer service during the coronavirus. They found that companies focusing on “care and concern” fared better than those holding the line with pushy marketing tactics.
It should be an easy tonal shift for restaurants to make. During times of uncertainty, good food can be a nourishing vehicle for self-care. Restaurants who want to connect with customers in the new normal should consider prioritizing care and comfort in their branding.
At the same time, the coronavirus has placed new emphasis on safety. Doubling down on hygienic and work-safe practices will be a great way for restaurants to attract customers and kitchen talent.
Think Digital Maturity
According to BDC and Go Daddy, technology will continue to play an outsized role in restaurant management after the pandemic.
The restaurants that thrive in the new normal will be ones that embrace concepts like social engagement, digital loyalty programs, web presence, and a robust online ordering presence. As mentioned above, companies like REEF can help spur digital maturity by facilitating online ordering and linking restaurants to new networks of diners.
Make Things Casual
During the pandemic, the fine-dining sector was hit the hardest. There were several reasons for this. Customers fearing continued financial instability turned to casual dining options to save money.
Delivery customers, especially those who were social distancing indoors, demonstrated a preference for casual food – which is often nourishing, comforting and well-suited for transport. And, lastly, fine dining restaurants rely primarily on the in-person experience to convey value – a value that’s lost in an age of on-demand delivery.
While fine dining may rebound in the years following the pandemic, opening a casual concept is still the safer bet.
It may be a rocky few years ahead, but with the help of new delivery kitchen concepts, digital marketing opportunities and industry insights, your restaurant can thrive in the new normal.