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Restaurateurs need to rethink what it means to be a restaurant

By Jenny Westerberg, 27 Apr 2020

Keep reading - 3 minutes reading time

Virtual connections – the new normal

How should you as a restaurateur change your business now during the corona crisis and afterwards? No doubt the corona crisis has changed our behavior in the most dramatic ways. Things we took for granted are not safe anymore, and we are all figuring out how to continue to live with the virus in our midst. Countries will gradually try to get back to normal, but the new normal will not be the same as before the coronavirus, even for those who are not infected. Two to three months of anything from keeping social distances to complete isolation will undoubtedly influence our behavior well into the future.

The digitalization we saw growing at a steady pace has now been boosted into hyper speed by the coronavirus. Almost anything that can be done online is being done online to avoid meeting other people. Amazon is a point in fact. The company thrives and recently announced 100,000 new hires to help manage the surge of online orders. (Source: Washington Post).

Fitness centers are losing business to online or outdoor fitness and yoga classes. Musicians are live streaming on Instagram and Facebook rather than performing on stage.

So even when the crisis is over, many people will have found new ways of doing things – ways they might prefer even as we go forward. A lot of people and companies might realize that working from home a few days every week is more effective than coming into the office every day. This would mean that fewer people eat lunch in typical business and financial areas. But restaurants and cafés in residential areas might see an increase in lunchtime traffic.


Rethink what it means to be a restaurant

Vaughn Tan, a professor at UCL who has written the book The uncertainty mindset, believes that this crisis will force the industry to fundamentally rethink what it even means to be a restaurant.

Many restaurants need to work out new business models that complement cooking at home. For example, providing prepared meals that can be finalized or heated at home, or individual deli-style items that would normally not be considered a restaurant meal. Some restaurants might start selling products from their suppliers directly to consumers. Others might start selling their signature sauce, making a simple meal cooked at home so much tastier.

If there is something this pandemic has shown us, it is that things can change rapidly and appear out of nowhere. To continue to run a restaurant as before is obviously not a good option. You really need to think about how to best secure your future business when meeting physically in groups is no longer a viable option.


Virtual cook-a-long and DIY kits

Virtual cook-along is one phenomenon which truly has become popular during this time of social distancing or isolation. To keep sane during self-isolation, we need new things to do. Joining a live cook-along has inspired thousands of people to create new dishes and learn new skills.

We have become accustomed to do many new things online, and this behavior will not disappear as soon as the crisis is over. You as a restaurateur can provide dinner kits and virtual classes to show your guests how to make their favorite restaurant meals at home.


The shift from in-restaurant dining to delivery will go fast

The famous chef David Chang was interviewed about today’s crisis in The New York Times. He told readers that there will likely be a major move towards delivery. Before the coronavirus, Chang thought the shift was going to happen over the next 10 or 15 years, and that no one would notice because it would’ve happened gradually. But now he thinks the change is going to happen instantaneously.

What will this mean to you? In cities around the globe we already see more and more of so-called “ghost kitchens,” where the digital front is key and the establishment teams up with different delivery services. Ghost kitchens can drastically cut their operating costs by having fewer employees and less square footage. They can streamline operations, innovate and focus on creating quality menu items. (Source Forbes).


How will we consume food in the future?

The demand for food will not decrease in the future. Quite the opposite. Studies show that Millennial’s and younger generations don’t cook as much as previous generations. The question is how we will consume our food in the future?

According to Forbes, in-restaurant dining numbers have remained constant in recent years, but digital orders have risen by 20% per year.

So, it’s not a wild guess to say that eating takeout will increase substantially, and also packaged in different formats such as pre-portioned meals to heat at home, DIY-kits and ready-made dishes. Takeout will cover every business area from fine- and casual dining to fast food.

People still want to eat tasty, healthy food that is safe for them. We hope this text has given you some inspiration and ideas how to move forward in a world where virtual connections are the new normal.

Please keep reading on our website about how Trivec Buddy can help you provide a web-based service for mobile ordering and payment that enables your customers to order from a digital menu and be served at the table or pick it up as takeaway.


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