Gastronomy: 53% are confident about business survival

Chicago / IL. (tni / eb) Technomic hosted its first virtual conference as part of the Foodservice Planning Program and shared a State of the Industry presentation, covering long-term concerns, the effects of dine-in closures and when we may see a full recovery. The data points from this presentation highlight what is offered in a new program launched by Technomic, Economic Impact Navigator.

«Dine-in closures are certainly changing how we do business today, causing restaurants to quickly change their business models to offer off-premise services,» Joe Pawlak, managing principal at Technomic, stated in the presentation. «On the other side of things, dining room openings cause a new wave of shifting business operations. Overall, 31 percent of operators surveyed the week of May 31 said they are taking a ‘wait-and-see approach’ to reopening and, in the meantime, exploring how to address new cost burdens such as hyper-sanitization, PPE, labor, packaging and the rising cost of food supplies.»

Key findings from the session included:

  • 53 percent of operators are very confident or somewhat confident about their business survival
  • Looking at a second wave of Covid-19 by the end of the year, 77 percent of consumers are either concerned or very concerned
  • By mid-April, 42 percent of restaurants added curbside pickup

The Economic Impact Navigator offers insight into the impacts of major events and guidance on strategic planning for businesses focused on the foodservice industry. But also catch up on the latest headlines and updates regarding the coronavirus, reopening regulations and additional impacts on the foodservice industry globally – read the long term monitoring «Technomic’s Take: Covid-19, The Foodservice View».

Initiated at the beginning of March 2020, the monitoring is today one of the best reports on gastronomy, food service and so on under the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic. A detailed look at current events with many facts and figures. Ideas and solutions that can rarely be applied 1:1 to other regions – but which are nevertheless helpful because they are worth thinking about. Technomic published the last part of this review on 23 June as follows:

Reopening regulations lead to new formats and menu innovations

China has put several parts of Beijing under lockdown following a spike in recent virus infections. The second wave prevention measures include the closure of some bars and the sanitization of restaurants.

South Africa is now allowing restaurants to offer dine-in service after having been under one of the world’s tightest lockdowns since late March.

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court ruled that prohibitions on business reopenings are unconstitutional, opening the door for restaurant dining rooms and bars to welcome guests again.

Governors in both Texas and Florida announced that restaurant dining rooms can reopen at 25 percent capacity. However, in Florida, stay-at-home orders remain in place for the more populous Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. Full-service restaurant operators in Texas have reported mixed experiences after the state’s reopening of dining rooms, according to a survey by the Texas Restaurant Association. Over a quarter of full-service operators (28 percent) said dine-in traffic has been «steady,» while nearly as many (26.3 percent) referred to in-store visits as «slow.»

Georgia’s governor is reopening some businesses, including restaurants for dine-in service. These businesses will be «subject to specific social distancing and sanitation mandates.» The governors of Tennessee and Pennsylvania also announced a loosening of state restrictions over the coming weeks.

Illinois restaurants have been able to open for outdoor dining as early as May 29. All open patio seating must be away from sidewalks. Dine-in service will not reopen until the next phase of the state’s recovery plan is implemented, likely happening on June 26.

Despite other states announcing restaurant reopenings, restaurants in Michigan were suspended through May 28. California’s governor is allowing restaurants to resume limited dine-in service in seven counties but restaurant dining rooms in the populous Los Angeles County remain closed.

Governors in California, Oregon and Washington have formed a regional alliance to coordinate the reopening of schools and businesses once recovery begins. Washington specifically will require operators to record the name, contact information and time of visit for anyone who eats on-premise as a condition of reopening their dining rooms. Dine-in service has been allowed in Washington at a smaller capacity since June 20.

New restrictions mean new formats

Some operators globally are testing new formats that eliminate seating areas or encourage consumption elsewhere as an alternative to sit-down dining. These innovations come in response to the added labor for sanitizing seating areas, social distancing mandates and the reluctance of some to go back to dining in enclosed public spaces. In the Philippines, burger and burrito specialist Army Navy launched a drive-up service allowing guests to pull into dedicated parking spaces where they can order and dine inside their cars. In Spain, upscale burger CDR Goiko launched an express format offering a pared down menu of specialty items available for takeaway and delivery only. And in China, several major QSRs are heading to the streets, opening mobile street stands with only takeaway service—tying back to a traditional service format in the market, while allowing guests to maintain social distancing.

New formats open new menu innovations

Another way operators are experimenting within these new ways of business is through menu offerings. Many companies have implemented family meals and bundles. BJ’s Restaurant + Brewhouse tried out family meal bundles. Starting at USD 44.95, the to-go family meals serve four and are available in various options. Firebirds Wood Fired Grill is also promoting family meals to go or for delivery. Each meal serves four and includes salads, sides, bread with butter and dessert, with many options to choose from. Other operators trying out family meals include Village Inn, Joe’s Crab Shack and The Habit Burger Grill..

Many restaurants also offered Father’s Day specials to encourage sales. Marlow’s Tavern and Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe offered to-go meals, while Metro Diner debuted heat-and-serve meals available for pickup and The Palm Restaurant offered steak kits. Restaurants will continue to explore ways to draw in guests, either by offering to-go and delivery specials or by gaining their trust by promoting new safety precautions for dine-in occasions.