With the pandemic now coming to an end and the hospitality industry recovering at a fantastic rate the question still remains. Will the restaurant industry ever be the same again? Here are ways that the industry might change forever as things slowly begin to return to “normal”.
Sluggish indoor dining
With continuing to rise — including inoculations of restaurant visitors and workers alike — a massive proportion of the population are now safe to head out and enjoy the hospitality sector. With restaurants, cafes and bars reopening across the country, it should be safe to eat indoors again if you’ve been fully vaccinated.
Although many already have, industry experts say people will probably become increasingly comfortable returning to pre-pandemic dining situations.
After more than a year of social distancing when out or not being able to eat out at all, it may take a while before customers or restaurant owners warm up to the idea of communal tables once again.
It’s estimated that takeaway and delivery orders account for 60% of all restaurant traffic before the pandemic. This statistic then increased to an estimated 90% during the pandemic. With this huge increase, you’d expect a fall back to a similar number now that you can eat in at restaurants again. Well, maybe not. With people now adjusting to regular takeaways where they may have ventured out in the past, this number might not ever reach pre-pandemic numbers.
With many restaurants that did not deliver before lockdown now delivering, for many there isn’t any reason to leave the comfort of their homes to try their favourite cuisines.
In almost every industry, there is constant technological advancements that increase productivity, speed of delivery or profit margins. Within the restaurant industry, this is almost all in the app space. With food delivery apps such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats now household names and used by millions, many restaurants are now developing their own apps.
This is almost always due to the big hitters in the delivery sector taking a large cut of their profits or because the restaurant in question operates in an area that doesn’t qualify for app deliveries.
Outside of ordering and delivery apps for orders out of house, there are also some in house improvements from technological advances. For example, ordering at the bar for many pubs and clubs is a thing of the past. With many following the “Wetherspoons route” of having an app for orders that are brought directly to your table, companies like Slerp, who offer online order apps for restaurants, are seeing a massive increase in demand from smaller establishments desperate for systems that make their customers feel safer.
With this increase of apps and automated software, the need for staff will also fall. Although this will see an increase in profit margins and could be the difference between an establishment staying afloat or not, it’s a shame to see job numbers decrease further after the pandemic already slashed them.
A chance to fix long-standing issues
One positive in having so much time shut is that companies now have had time to develop ideas, renovate their establishment or carry out large scale fixes to either their properties or their internal infrastructure. Unfortunately, so many local restaurants didn’t survive the lockdown. But for the ones that did and had an issue during the pandemic that have reopened since, chances are that issue is a thing of the past.
And if it wasn’t, they’ve missed a golden opportunity!
With restaurants now returning to almost full capacity and people more and more open to returning to the hospitality sector, chances are it won’t be the same place that you left before lockdown.
Time to embrace change, step outside and visit your local Thai, Indian or Italian to see how things have moved on!