February 2021: Restaurant Good News Roundup
With Valentine’s Day in our review mirror, we patiently await the spring months even as much of the northern hemisphere is covered in snow. While people are vaccinated at an increasing pace, restaurant industry advocates continue their push to prioritize workers. In fact, McDonald’s has gone so far as to offer to compensate employees to get the vaccine. In this month’s February 2021: Restaurant Good News Roundup, we look at the news items that offer us all that we need the most: hope.
In the U.S., one month after the inauguration of President Joe Biden, many wonder if the shift in the political landscape will help restaurants. Fortunately, all signs seem to point to aid for restaurants soon, including bailouts and a minimum wage increase for struggling workers. The minimum wage discussion is complicated but is poised to help staff who have struggled financially. The CEO of McDonald’s, one of the world’s largest employers of restaurant workers, signaled recently that they would be “just fine” with an increase in the minimum wage, hopefully offering a model to others in the industry challenged by the prospect.
To say the last year has been a struggle is an understatement. Fortunately, there are so many who have turned to one another for strength and comfort, whether that’s restaurateurs helping the community or the community helping restaurants. In Colorado, restaurateurs have gotten creative in finding ways to keep the lights on, petitioning the local government to discount their utilities. Across the U.S. in Virginia, third-party delivery service DoorDash has donated money to a grant program to help struggling restaurateurs.
When possible, the restaurant industry has given back to the same community that rallied to help out. In Toledo, a new non-profit cafe has opened up that rewards guests who help commit to community service with free meals. Lastly, celebrity chef Rachael Ray is helping fund the next generation of chefs and restaurant workers, paying it forward to the industry of the future.
Innovations in Tech
Restaurant technologies have always powered the industry, but more so throughout lockdowns. While practical applications like contactless restaurant tech and enhancements to off-premise dining functionality have improved restaurant efficiencies, some innovators have turned science fiction into science fact. In both Fresno, California, and Chicago, Illinois, robot-powered restaurants have opened up. Elsewhere, a tech company is working on getting us closer to autonomous drone delivery, which would be perfect for inclement weather. Last, a restaurant in Tokyo has employed robot waiters controlled by disabled restaurant workers, which is great for everyone. I want one too!
Getting the word out on your business is difficult during the best of times, but even more so when you have to cut through busy news cycles. In a wonderful cause marketing story, a food technology company recently unveiled sustainable french fries, which promise to be tasty and good for the environment. Another fun story comes from Hollywood, where the upcoming Justice League director’s cut captured nerds’ attention everywhere. Dropping in mid-March, fans can have their proverbial cake and eat it too, with themed meal-kits designed after characters from the DC Universe like Superman or Batman.
A Small Turn of Human Kindness
With political changes at the federal level in the U.S., immigration laws have changed to make an easier path for immigrants to citizenship. Immigrants are a substantial and integral part of the restaurant industry workforce, making these shifts in the legal landscape ideal for restaurant staffing and equitable people looking for a better life. Before President Biden’s changes, displaced immigrant staff struggled to get by, helped in part by their fellow industry workers’ generosity and fellowship.
Another story about perseverance and kindness, a non-verbal child recently used tech to order food at a Minnesota McDonalds. Using a device that captures eye movement, the young guest could communicate her order to signal what she wanted. While it seemed like a simple lunch, the meal marked the first time she had ever communicated her needs, all thanks to technology.
Conclusion – February 2021: Restaurant Good News Roundup
People want to return to normal between cabin fever and nostalgia, and dining in is on the menu. In some cases, the restaurant industry has continued to show growth, welcoming encouragement as we push forward. Will the industry continue to rebound? We believe so! As we wrap up our February 2021: Restaurant Good News Roundup, let us know if anything we might’ve missed or any good news worth sharing next time. Remember: we’ll get through this together.
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About the Author
Syd was a content marketing specialist, which are fancy words for writing pretty to tell a good story. He likes writing things about food, drinks, and music. He’s a musician himself, a father of two, and loves his wife a whole lot.