COVID & The Restaurant Industry

The restaurant industry is going through very tumultuous times – and it doesn’t seem to be getting better.  

Since March of 2020, countless restaurants have been shut down or permanently closed due to COVID-19.  

Restrictions are tight, dining is limited, and restaurants are begging for some positive news. 

Owners have been filing for bankruptcy, being arrested, and even chased down by police all because of this virus. 

COVID-19

COVID-19 has really taken a toll on many industries, especially the restaurant industry.

This is, by far, the worst year for restaurants all over the world.  

As we are limited to where we eat, with how many people we eat, and when we can eat – there has never been a less inviting time to dine out.  

As of March 2020, restaurants have been closed and obviously have seen a steady decrease in sales.

This leads to many workers losing their jobs, decade-old-businesses closing doors.

But most importantly, business owners forfeiting their livelihoods that they’ve worked so hard for.   

Limited dining has taken its toll on the restaurant industry and it’s quite obvious in the numbers. 

In NYC, it’s estimated that over 1,000 restaurants have closed since March 2020.  

It is more important to note that it is quite impossible to give an exact count of the restaurants that have closed. 

Based on the number of restaurants in NYC in 2019 (23,000), they provided over 300,000 jobs and more than $10 billion in taxable sales. 

As more restaurants close and leave thousands without work, it could be quite devastating to the economy if the industry continues to see a steady decline.

Based on the report released in August 2020, the employment in the restaurant industry was still at less than 60% of just half a year prior!  

Eating Outdoors?

The article claims that many restaurants are doing better as of August 2020, than in March of that same year.

One big issue is many restaurants had the ability to seat guests outside throughout the spring and summer months.  

As temperatures begin to drop and eating outdoors is no longer feasible, how will restaurants maintain throughout the cold winter months?

How many more restaurants will close during the harsh winter months? 

Many restaurants can’t afford to close their doors for a week, let alone another month without revenue.  

With more than a million restaurants in the United States, it’s going to be very interesting to see which ones fall and which can stand the test of COVID.

The restaurant industry has evolved tremendously over the past 20-30 years. 

The average American in the 1960-1970s cooked food from their homes and served directly to their family.  

We no longer had time to cook meals and sit down together – it was simply easier to sit down at a restaurant and be served.  

Impacts on the Restaurant Industry

There have been quite a few pivotal moments that shifted the restaurant industry.

This includes: the frequency at which people eat out, social media, design layouts, and especially, COVID.  

All of these topics have shifted the food industry in one way or another and COVID has changed the way we consume food, once again. 

The restaurant industry has been altered many times. 

The most recent change being the way food is consumed.  

As of 2019, customers were the most educated they’ve ever been regarding food products, ingredients, prices, and portions. 

Thanks to the likes of Uber, LYFT, and other food delivery options, getting food from your favorite restaurant has never been easier. 

Where we end up from here is hard to say but as most things come to an end, something new will take its place. 

How will the restaurant industry be affected in the long run?  Will people be afraid to eat out again?  Will people still opt to cook from home and stay on the “safe” side?  

The Rebirth

Are we going to see a complete rebirth of the restaurant industry as we know it?  

I did read a few weeks ago that the black plague in Italy birthed the Renaissance and all the great art, architecture, plays, books, etc.. 

I’ve even heard people compare COVID-19 with the black plague and frankly, I hope that is what comes out of this because we do need some innovation.  

Will restaurants no longer focus on sit down consumers and reduce their table sizes to create more kitchen/storage space for those who order for delivery or pick up options?  

This would be much more like a food manufacturer but to local people rather than supermarkets. 

Think about this:  if you cut down a 50 table restaurant to 25 and expand your kitchen or storage space, you can cook food in advance, box it, and when people order it, you can heat it up and then sell it.  

How long will this last?/How much more can this industry take?  One of the most serious questions regarding this entire situation: how long will this last? 

From a virus that was supposed to last a few weeks – how much longer can this go on?

Not only that but, how much more can the restaurant industry take? 

What will happen to food as we know it if the entire restaurant industry changes?  

This could be a major turn of events and create a way of consuming food that we’ve never seen before.  

Maybe amazon will swoop in with a save us all method and create an incredible home delivery system via whole foods that will completely reshape the way we purchase and receive food.

Suggested Readings:

https://www.osc.state.ny.us/files/reports/osdc/pdf/nyc-restaurant-industry-final.pdf

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