We are going to stay in our homes forever! The government is oppressing our freedoms! Masks are getting laced with poison to kill you! There have been so many conspiracies circulating, and many doctors and experts have said, do not panic. Many people, in the beginning, have assumed the worst and panicked. People started hoarding all sorts of medical items. This caused medical item shortages for doctors and nurses. Because of this, many hospitals have been ill-equipped to save lives. Hospitals are not the only ones that are having trouble. All sorts of businesses have been affected—businesses like grocery stores, recreational centers, and restaurants.
Supply Chain Disruption
Well, yes and no. Some restaurants are getting hit worse than others. One thing that has gotten much more difficult for everyone is supply chains. While driving is mainly a one-person job, getting the raw materials, on the other hand, is not. One supply chain problem happens during flights. As many people have probably heard, getting packed onto an airplane with many other people is a big no. Planes that fly passengers for extended periods of time go against established rules to prevent covid. It also expands the reach of the disease. Because of this, the flight industry has really struggled. You would not expect food to be transported on flights, but they are. Only specific foods that have a high value to weight ratio can fly. These lucrative items have been hindered by the lack of passengers who are not willing to fly. How do you know this?
Statistics for flight
Cargo capacity was 26% lower compared to the same time from the year before. This also reached up to 80% in some cases. Some examples of high-value products would be things like fruits and vegetables. These items are also perishable and cost farmers when they were not able to export their products.
Effects on the farm
The ingredients needed to make the food have also been getting bottlenecked because of farm labor, processing, transport, and logistics. Many policies have been passed since covid has overtaken the world—things like limitations on people in the same room, mask mandates, and the infamous social distancing. Policies put in place to contain the spread of the covid-19 have caused fewer present workers. The workers who are present have restrictions on their mobility. This is a hassle for workers. This is a problem because of how much it is slowing down the processes all around.
One example of getting slowed down is at the most crucial farm—meat processing plants. Everyone knows how much people now a day like to eat meat. It comes in nearly every meal. Back then, we ate more vegetables. This is a problem for meat eaters because meat processing has slowed by 40% because of how the plant works. Workers are really close together, which makes it hard for physical distancing. All these items are getting thrown away at a net loss for the farmer and consumers. If we are no longer getting meat from the farms, are we all going to become vegetarians?
No, not quite. While the supply chains attempt to correct themselves and find new ways of transporting goods, people have found alternatives. Of course, the only other alternatives are plant or seafood-based proteins. Ever since covid 19, restaurants have changed and with their menus. One example of this is a restaurant in Fresno, California, called Max’s Bistro. Short ribs were one of the most popular dishes on the menu. Sadly, it has been temporarily taken off the menu and replaced with plant and seafood-based entrees. The price of the short ribs rose by 2 dollars a pound. This was the reason it was taken down. While this is very unfortunate, nothing is safe from changing times.
Menu/Restaurant Changes Continued
Max’s Bistro is just one example of how many stores had to change their restaurant or menu. Another function of a restaurant that has been affected by the change is shareable portions. At the same time, this is not necessary for most restaurants. Some places like buffets and other self-serve restaurants. Have been affected. The main problem for buffets is how much interaction the food goes through. The chef cooks the food, and then it gets placed out in the tray. People are walking everywhere, and the food is not supervised. They would walk over to the type of dish they want and scoop it on their plate. Some people might drop food outside the tray and push it back into the tray. They could also get some sauce on their hands, lick it off, and grab another handle to scoop more food. You probably agree that interaction is disgusting.
A Professional’s View
It is not just disgusting; it is hazardous for our current times. Sojo Alex said, “there could be a significant shift towards individual portions to address safety concerns in on-site dining.” Sojo Alex is an associate member of the Foodservice Consultant’s Society International. Another change in restaurants is the restaurants themselves. A new type of mobile serving has begun from ghost kitchens. These are also known as virtual kitchens or shadow kitchens. They have thrived since covid-19. Some restaurants are pushing towards virtual expansions and creating new brands that are strictly online and on mobile platforms. This is great and all, but what are ghost kitchens? Ghost kitchens are restaurants without a dining space. Their main objective is to make food for online orders and use third-party delivery apps. For example, apps like UberEATS and Door Dash send the food to the consumer.
Online/Mobile Orders Statistics
You are probably wondering, do people even use these apps built by web design agencies? Yes, yes, they do. These kitchens have caused online and mobile orders to increase by an exponential amount. This is because it is the only way to order food from ghost kitchens. These places do not have a customer front. That is why mobile delivery apps are so important. Steve Schulze, a CEO of a 174 unit chain of restaurants, has spoken about the app. He said that the mobile orders coming in have been huge. He also said that many restaurants have been coming in positive while running at 20% lower labor. This is also boosted by how the digital age has affected everyone.
Online/Mobile Orders Continued
Now that everyone has phones and access to apps, companies can put their menus on your phone. Now that more consumers are downloading apps, companies can help them push their loyalty programs. Numerous chains have said that their mobile app usage has increased in recent months. For example, many companies have employed a tactic where they will give out free side items. They are hoping to attract customers who will also buy larger items from their menu. Now, companies do not have to print coupons and manually send them to you. They can pop notifications on your phone, giving you free items. It is one of the many tactics to get you to buy from them.
Mobile Sales Tactics
All these types of tactics have been employed on mobile and increased their sales. The proof is in their earnings. Sales on mobile orders have risen to one billion. This was an already growing part of the industry. It now represents 30% of total company sales. This is great! So business is booming, and life will go back to normal for everyone?
What Restaurants Will Look Like After Covid
Sadly, some places did not make it. Certain locations will be closing permanently. An example of some places that have been hit incredibly hard because of covid-19 is Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes. This restaurant had been opened since 1978. The founder, Dennis Jay, worked with blood, sweat, and tears to expand the franchise to 97 different locations. Housing a total of 4,400 workers, this restaurant chain was sadly forced to close due to bankruptcy. Their self-serve buffet style of food was indirectly attacked by covid. Why not just clean the handle and sanitize everything around it?
Government Guidelines on Covid
No matter how hard you try to wash every handle, customers will still have to grab the handle. This is just one example of the hard-falling self-serve stations. The FDA released guidelines and healthy practices for restaurants. It says to discontinue self-serving stations that need customers to interact with utensils or dispensers frequently. The FDA released this because restaurants are there to make money by selling food to their consumers. If your entire business model of serving food is at stake, of course, you would want to stay open. You would want to stay open if you can before every location must close. Releasing this statement was the precursor warning to what would happen to those businesses. If they did not see it then, they definitely feel the impact of covid now.
COVID has affected so many different aspects of a restaurant. While many things are changing, people will always be lazy. There will always be a demand for food. The only thing that would stop the food industry is if you could 3D print any food you want. We are still a long way from getting any food we want for free. Because of that, restaurants are here to stay. They will change a lot, but doesn’t everything over time? We should not fear change. Even though everything around us is dying, we should not panic because so are we. Maybe one day, when we become advanced to cure aging, we will not worry about any diseases. All in all, restaurants are here to stay. You don’t have to worry about them up and disappearing forever.