Stats Of The Week

The State Of The Industry

As Texas begins to slowly give the green light for restaurants to reopen their dining rooms, 47.4% of the state’s restaurants reported they would not open, according to a poll from the Texas Restaurant Association. 43% of restaurants said they would reopen and 9.2% said they were unsure whether to reopen or not. Respondents that are choosing to not reopen yet are concerned that they need more time to rehire staff, restock inventory, and prepare dining rooms to adhere to social distancing guidelines. 41% of Texas restaurants reported that they will open in the second phase of the reopening plan, on May 18, when dining room capacities are raised to 50%.

RW Poll Results

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, we asked our social media followers how they will be adapting their food offerings during this unique time. 61% of respondents believe family-style meals will be the most popular option for Mother’s Day with the other 39% choosing prix fixe menus. To highlight this special holiday, 50% of respondents say they will be offering a special menu for Mother’s Day. When asked which mealtime they predict will be most popular this Mother’s Day, 96% voted for brunch over dinner.

What’s Trending

KFC Connects Families For Mother’s Day

KFC is offering more than fried chicken this Mother’s Day: they’re offering a virtual experience for families to chat over Facebook Messenger. While COVID-19 is keeping families apart, KFC’s Facebook page is allowing family members to send loved ones an invitation to share a meal together over video. Their page is connected to a chatbot on Messenger which helps users personalize their invites with family pictures, names of invitees, and reminders of the event. Up to eight people are able to join the video chat and can decorate their calls with digital stickers and effects. KFC is also incentivizing Mother's Day orders by offering free delivery if online orders meet a minimum purchase amount.

Georgia’s Reopening Gets Mixed Reviews From Independents

A week after Georgia began phase one of reopening, independent operators faced the difficult decision of potentially risking the health of their customers and employees or risking the chance of potentially losing their business. Restaurants that chose to open have taken safety precautions by requiring all employees to wear face masks and limiting the number of customers for in-person dining at once. Some restaurants reported an uptick of customers at the beginning of their reopening, but have seen the number of customers choosing to dine-in trickle down. Many restaurants report that customers are opting for food pickup or delivery with only about 2 to 3 customers choosing to dine in. Recently, owners of more than 120 of Georgia’s most popular restaurants announced they won’t be reopening their doors just yet.

McDonald’s Manages Limited Meat Supply

Supply chain concerns have become a major worry for restaurants planning to reopen soon. McDonald’s has started limiting its distribution of meat to prepare for potential shortages from meat processing plant closures. The company is planning to send its restaurants meat shipments based on the calculated demand across their system, instead of allocating the standard amount they believe will be needed. At this time, McDonald’s can meet the demand and hasn’t experienced any shortages yet, but the company’s main meat suppliers, Smithfield Foods and Tyson, have both recently warned of potential shortages. McDonald’s has stated that the state of the American meat processing industry is concerning and that they’re monitoring the situation hour by hour.

Pizza Chains Prevail During The Pandemic

While the majority of the restaurant industry has seen a dramatic dropoff in sales, the pizza segment has performed exceptionally well during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. Pizza chains offer a familiar, affordable product that can be easily delivered resulting in its power to withstand this tumultuous time. According to data from Sense360, while year-over-year sales dropped 20% in March for the entire quick-service segment and 33% for the fast-casual segment, sales among pizza chains were only down 5%. Popular pizza chains, like Domino’s and Papa John’s, have seen growth in the second quarter with preliminary same-store sales. Domino’s has reported 7.1% sales growth for the first few weeks of April, while Papa John’s has reported 5.3% sales growth in North America.

Reservation Platforms Offer Relief For Restaurants

As restaurants gain the ability to slowly reopen their in-person dining, reservation systems are becoming essential for restaurants to manage social distancing and adhere to COVID-19 restrictions. Popular reservation platforms, OpenTable and Resy, are offering restaurant relief programs to help restaurants easily reopen with limited seating capacities. OpenTable has introduced a new “Open Door” pricing program for new and existing restaurants. The program includes no subscription fees through the end of the year, no cover fees through the end of September, and up to 50% off on cover fees in the fourth quarter. Resy is waiving all fees for new and existing restaurants through the end of 2020.

Bright Spots In A COVID-19 World

Food Supporting Frontline Workers & Local Restaurants

A recent graduate of the University of Illinois, Rachel Jacoby, has founded Feed the Front Line - Chicago. The program is raising money to buy meals from local restaurants to then donate them to essential employees. From hospitals to grocery stores, the program is offering meals to frontline workers while simultaneously supporting local businesses. So far, Feed the Front Line has raised $30,000 to buy 3,000 meals from local independent restaurants.

Local Restaurant Gets An Unexpected Welcome Back Gift

The Frog & The Bull is among one of the Texas restaurants that opened its doors for customers to dine-in last week. The owner, David Fernandez, had been preparing for weeks to open when restrictions were lifted. Last Friday, a man and his family ate at the restaurant and ordered a filet mignon, scallops, grilled steak, and other high-price items with their check reaching a total of $337. The customer asked his server to double charge him for everything he had ordered. Once the customer received his updated check with the double charge, he then added a $300 tip for his server and $1,000 for the house with his total coming out to $2,029. Fernandez said to CNN that he was wowed by the generous act, especially since his restaurant was barely five months old before the pandemic forced them to close.

Quote Of Hope

“As chefs, we cook. When we celebrate, we cook. When we get depressed, we cook. It’s how we show our love, it’s how we self-medicate when our therapist isn’t available. Firing up the stove is our comfort zone, and if we’ve ever needed comfort, it’s now.” - Bobby Flay, celebrity chef and TV personality