8 Ways Restaurants Are Surviving The Coronavirus
By this point, we all recognize the dramatic paradigm shift brought on by COVID-19, which has reshaped our new normal to the extent that the World Health Organization has warned the public to limit their media intake. The reason is simple: we face bad news every day, from grim health forecasts to the fiscal uncertainty that has rocked our economy. Through all of this, the hospitality community has shown remarkable resilience and creativity, quickly transitioning their business models in innovative ways. Here are 8 ways to ensure that restaurants are surviving the coronavirus.
For many operators, transitioning to an exclusively off-premise model is perhaps the most obvious step. You already have the infrastructure for crafting your meals, so now you need to ensure that you’ve optimized your off-premise setup accordingly. Before you do anything, consult your local laws regarding food delivery. For example, do you need any special licensing or permits for your delivery drivers, or has your local government eased that up? Do your drivers require individual insurance? Double-check so that you don’t encounter any legal issues later.
If you’re relying on curbside delivery, follow the CDC’s recommendations on cleaning. Set out some hand sanitizer for guests making the pickup, and gather whatever supplies you can to stay clean. Whenever possible, set up a direct payment method, either made digitally or by phone, and set up a place for customer pickup that doesn’t require contact between either party. If you’re delivering in person, consider contactless delivery options to avoid needless contact.
Many states around the U.S. are allowing alcohol delivery from restaurants or liquor stores directly to consumers. This revenue stream is largely untapped and one that can help your customers take the edge off. Of course, there is much to consider with restaurant alcohol delivery, from the legal issues that you may encounter from state to state, to the logistics of getting drinks to your customers.
Give the People What They Want
Speaking of delivery, some enterprising restaurateurs have upped their off-premise game by offering extras to interested consumers. Low on toilet paper? Need sanitary supplies or bottled water? Some restaurants are packaging menu items, and your daily utility needs in one tidy order. Keep in mind that operators likely already have many of these products on order as part of their brick-and-mortar operation, so if this is you, you might include some of these items (currently superfluous to your business) as bonus features.
Become a Grocer
Data culled from ConnectSmart Kitchen since quarantine protocols began to appear around the United States and beyond, indicates 100% of in-house traffic. Some restaurants are using the supply chain resources we mentioned above, to pivot their entire model from a brick-and-mortar restaurant to a grocery store, providing much-needed options for some in resource-starved areas. An operator’s ability to do this is entirely based on the space available for shelving and keeping stock. Keep in mind that you need a healthy amount of space (six feet apart per customer) so that customers aren’t crowded when shopping.
Right now, we’re all suffering from cabin fever and starving for options on how to fix that. Need an at-home activity? Not the best chef in the world? Meal kits offer a solution for both by giving both the special ingredients and the cooking directions to your guests. Now they can learn how to make their favorite meal at home, which again, gives them something to do, and keeps your business going. For customers, meal kits are useful for portion control, a serious problem for many, and by using less packaging, environmentally friendly. Meal kits benefit everyone involved.
Another way to help inspire the next generation of chefs, while preparing for future generations of restaurant workers, is to offer online cooking tutorials. We know that the coronavirus is here, but we also know that it’s not here to stay and that we will eventually get back to whatever our new normal is. While the economic toll already has and will yet be intense, we’re all in the same boat. We’re all at home and many without much to do at the moment. And when this inevitable reset hits, the restaurant business will return. People want to go out, and they’ll definitely want to go on dates in public, either with friends or loved ones, or even just quiet nights out for parents who have quarantined with children for months on end.
Online tutorials are effective at creating something to do, while also helping to train the employees of tomorrow. Once restaurants are back up and running, they can even input recipes that hit it off big online into a recipe viewer to keep everything consistent no matter who staffs the restaurant.
Imagine if you could offer a place that was almost entirely protected from environmental contagions. What would that look like, and how would you make it safe. Two entrepreneurs in Cleveland, Ohio, have tackled that project with the Klean Room, which gives interested parties the opportunity to have a hermetically sealed, contactless cube. The idea is simple, the Klean Room gets set up, it filters out particles through UV and air scrubbing technology to provide a safe space for all parties to enter. This is a neutral zone, and not really a place for a sit-down meal.
Live Stream Gaming
As we’ve mentioned, people are incredibly bored. Every day is basically just a day now, as many in the U.S. are working from home, or, unfortunately, not working at all. What can you do to engage an audience as a restaurant? For one New York restaurant, a board game cafe, the answer is to live stream their games. Tying into the rise in off-premise, whether alcohol or otherwise, the restaurant is offering online gaming sessions to keep people interested in their brand and frankly, to provide a public service.
It doesn’t have to just be games though. You can do live Riff Trax to movies (where legally permissible), you can share playlists through your preferred streaming channel, start a podcast, or any other number of things to keep people interested and entertained (and your brand firmly in their mind), while we all persevere through this crisis.
Restaurants Surviving Coronavirus: Conclusion
The silver lining to the curse of this pandemic is that we see the camaraderie and creativity that it’s sparked in restaurants surviving the coronavirus. In fact, throughout the creation of this list, more and more things came up, and we know that even more will continue to come up. Are you doing something novel or interesting right now to help stay afloat? We want to know. Sign off in the comments below and give us a description of how you’ve seen restaurants surviving the coronavirus. We want you to plug away at your business right now so that we can help spread the message.
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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. He’s at home like the rest of the world right now but finding time to play with the kids and create art.