Since the beginning of March, the restaurant and foodservice industry has been rocked by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. With the constant stream of information relating to the virus and its implications, it can be overwhelming to keep up with the developing news stories and regulations.

We'll be compiling a quick weekly update of the latest stats, trends, and otherwise notable news relating to coronavirus and the industry here for you. Check back every Thursday throughout the pandemic to see the latest and stay informed.

Stats Of The Week

The Current State Of The Industry

According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry has lost more than 3 million jobs and $25 billion in sales since March 1. In the last 3 weeks, 3% of operators have permanently closed their restaurant, 44% have temporarily closed, and 11% anticipate permanently closing within the next 30 days.

Search Terms Show Consumer Behavior

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer behavior has shifted to alternative meal solutions. There has been a 285% increase in search interest for “take out” which coincides with the current demand in the foodservice industry. Also, an increase in search interest of 650% for “is food delivery safe” shows concerns customers have all across the U.S., according to Google Trends.

RW Poll Results

In a recent poll on social media, Restaurantware’s followers were asked if they’ve had to lay off any staff, resulting in 70% responding “yes” and 30% responding “no”. When asked if followers found a survey from the NRA showing that 54% of restaurants have switched to off-premise only, 60% voted that they expected less while 40% expected more.

What’s Trending

The Make-It-At-Home Movement

In this time of isolation and social distancing, consumers are looking for activities to fill up their time which has resulted in the rise of meal kits. Rather than creating fully prepared meals, restaurants are packaging all of the necessary ingredients needed for customers to make their meals at home. This provides an interactive event for customers to experience homemade pizzas, brunches, multi-course meals, and more.

Loosened Alcohol Laws Allow Consumers To Get Loose

With recent regulations allowing off-premise alcohol sales during the coronavirus crisis, restaurants and bars are taking advantage of the moment with their own unique cocktail offerings. In most states, customers must purchase food items along with the purchase of alcohol which adds a great opportunity for upselling with deals and discounts. Independent operators are offering DIY cocktails kits for consumers to make their own sake bombs, Moscow mules, and other handcrafted cocktails.

Restaurants Transitioning To Retail

Operators are getting creative with ways to bring in revenue in the wake of coronavirus, resulting in many establishments converting into pop-up grocery shops. While grocery store shelves are emptying, restaurants have begun filling in as a source for consumers to find fresh produce and other perishables. Operators are offering their inventory of food and supplies as an alternative for consumers while bringing in a bit of cash flow to the business.

Temperature Checks Determine Workers’ Wellness

McDonald’s is requiring employees to undergo wellness checks to determine if they are fit to work. Before each shift, employees must check their temperature to see if they’re running a fever and answer a series of questions about possible coronavirus symptoms and exposure. If an employee has a high temperature or answers “yes” to any question, they must be sent home and cannot return to work until authorized by a medical professional.

Good News In A COVID-19 World

Distilleries Using Their Alcohol For The Greater Good

Hand sanitizer has become the hot commodity of the moment, and trying to find it on store shelves is next to impossible. To combat this shortage, some distilleries have started creating their own alcohol-based sanitizers alongside their beer or liquor operations. Many are creating a concoction of alcohol mixed with natural aloe vera packaged in small bottles to give to customers for free or to donate to hospitals.

Restaurants Giving Back To Hospital Staff

Restaurants have started to show their gratitude to healthcare workers in the best way they know how - through food. The popular doughnut chain, Krispy Kreme, is offering free boxes of donuts to healthcare workers every Monday. Starbucks is providing free coffees to police officers, paramedics, doctors, and other professionals on the frontlines. Independent operators are creating premade meals and donating them to their local hospitals and businesses where essential employees are working.

A Quote Of Hope

"The human spirit wants to keep going. It doesn't want to quit. Look up, and if the sky hasn't fallen, you just need to ask yourself, 'What am I appreciative for and what can I do to forward that?'" - Mark Canlis, owner of the James Beard award-winning restaurant Canlis in Seattle, WA