Stats Of The Week

The State Of The Industry

According to a U.S. Census Bureau survey, 75% of 22,000 small businesses said they sought federal aid through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). However, only 38% of respondents said they had received loan funding. The survey showed the pandemic’s impact appeared to be felt most intensely by hotels and restaurants with 84.5% reporting they applied for a PPP loan. About 31% of respondents said they expected it would take more than six months for their business to return to normal.

What Customers Expect When Restaurants Reopen

As restaurants begin to make the difficult decision to either reopen their businesses or not, one goal is at the top of the list: keep customers and employees safe. Many customers are excited to leave their homes but are hesitant to choose in-person dining in fear of spreading or contracting COVID-19. A poll conducted by VIPinsiders asked consumers what they’re looking for when deciding which restaurants are the safest to visit. 61.9% of respondents said they’d feel most comfortable with restaurant employees wearing both gloves and face masks while on the job. When asked how long customers expect it will take for their dining-out routine to go back to normal, 14.5% said immediately, 16.3% said a few weeks, and 13.8% believe it will take at least 30 days, with the other 55.4% choosing answers 60 days or longer.

What’s Trending

Financial & Health Fears Create Cautious Consumers

Financial distresses and worries about health and safety are pivotal factors that are predicted to change consumer purchasing behaviors. Even as states begin to reopen businesses, consumers are still hesitant to venture out to public spaces. According to a survey conducted by Datassential, 41% of respondents reported there was no way they would immediately visit a restaurant after stay-at-home orders are lifted.

“The restaurant industry will never go back to ‘normal’ again. Memories are short; people will come back. But it will take a couple of years for traffic to get back [to the way it was before]. You’ll see a spike when we reopen the country — people are landlocked right now and want to get out — but that will soon level out,” Gary Stibel, an analyst at New England Consulting Group said to Nation’s Restaurant News.

Safety First, Takes On A Whole New Meaning

The James Beard Foundation has partnered with the Aspen Institute, World Central Kitchen, and Off Their Plate to create a safety guide to instruct chefs, restaurant owners, and operators on how to protect their customers during the pandemic. They have compiled a list called ‘The Baker’s Dozen’ which is 13 commandments of basic operating rules that kitchens should follow when they choose to reopen their businesses. From off-premise operations to in-person dining, the guide lays out how to safely operate any function in your restaurant. Here are the top 3 tips listed in the guide:

  1. Understand how COVID-19 is spread and think about this with every decision
  2. Assign a workplace COVID-19 coordinator
  3. Establish and clearly communicate policies and procedures for preventing COVID-19 transmission

Panera Bread Implements New Technology For Pickup

Image credit: ablokhin - stock.adobe.com

Panera Bread has added contactless curbside pickup with geofencing technology to its off-premise operations. Geofencing uses WiFi technology like Panera's free WiFi which they've expanded to reach their parking lots. This technology immediately alerts employees when a customer arrives to pick up their order and eliminates the need for customers to call or text the store. The new initiative is part of Panera’s business strategy to pivot during the pandemic which includes grocery items added to menus, plexiglass barriers in cafes and drive-thrus, anti-microbial screens for customers to use when ordering from kiosks, and hand sanitizer available at all cafes. 

Image credit: ablokhin - stock.adobe.com

Buffalo Wild Wings Creates A New To ‘GO’ Concept

Buffalo Wild Wings opened its first ‘GO’ model restaurant in Georgia that focuses on take out and delivery orders. The ‘GO’ unit features a walk-up counter, digital menu boards, limited seating, and televisions for guests to be entertained while waiting for their orders. Customers who order ahead will be able to pick up their meals from heated take out lockers for a contactless experience. John Bowie, Buffalo Wild Wings chief operating officer, said in a statement that they’ve seen much success from this model over the past six weeks with their take out and delivery business growing over 140%.

Restaurants Around The World Get Creative Post-Pandemic

Just because restaurants around the world are reopening that doesn’t mean restaurants are operating as normal. Most safety guidelines require guests and employees to follow social distancing restrictions to lessen the risk of spreading coronavirus. Many states have enforced limited dining-in capacities to 50% or 25% to gradually ramp up business. Some operators have taken the creative route to come up with solutions to build consumer trust.

An independent restaurant in Virginia is seating mannequins, dressed in full outfits, jewelry, and wigs, at tables blocked off to maintain social distancing guidelines. A sushi restaurant in Miami has taken inspiration from China and has created pods for each table. The pods are separated by eight feet tall plastic sheets that are framed with wooden borders. In Amsterdam, a restaurant is offering its menu in individual greenhouses where parties up to 2 to 3 people sit in their own glass-enclosed homes.

Bright Spots In A COVID-19 World

Restaurants Honor Veterans For Memorial Day

Outback Steakhouse is celebrating service members with its “heroes discount” which gives 10% off to military personnel and their immediate family members. This year, nurses, doctors, medical staff, police officers, and firefighters are also eligible. Johnny Rockets is honoring military members with 50% off when they wear their uniform out to eat. Hooters is giving 20% off to all military personnel, healthcare workers, and first responders.

Guy Fieri & Bill Murray Host A Nacho Showdown For Charity

Celebrity Chef Guy Fieri and Actor Bill Murray faced off in the Food Network’s “Nacho Average Showdown”. They were both joined by their sons and were challenged to come up with the best plate of nachos. The event was held on the Food Network’s Facebook page through video calls. Since everyone was practicing social distancing, the judges couldn’t actually taste the nachos which tasked the chefs with describing their dishes in specific detail. In the end, the Fieris were declared the winners. The event raised money for Fieri’s Restaurant Employee Relief Fund which gives financial assistance to employees impacted by the coronavirus shutdown.

Quote Of Hope

“We are going to open up, we are going to be back strong and treat this as a new opening and something better than we were doing before we closed.” - Gordon Ramsay, celebrity chef and TV host