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What Does Your Restaurant Look Like Post Pandemic?

Turn back the clock to January 2020.  Most independent restaurant operators did not offer online ordering, their social media presence was limited, and they certainly were not using third party delivery services.  Many restaurants discouraged carryout orders as they were viewed as disruptive to their kitchen flow or out of concern their menu items were not going to travel as well as your typical delivery food such as pizza.

Flash forward to March 2020, restaurant operators were facing a “Stay At Home Order” requiring immediate closure of their dining rooms.  In the uncertainty that followed, some restaurants closed their doors waiting for the indoor dining ban to be lifted. However, for most, that was not a viable option.

Restaurants scrambled to add online ordering, scale down menus, invest in good quality to-go containers and add third party delivery services.  Curbside signs were ordered, extra phone lines added, and business continued. For many restaurants, sales were great as long as the community wanted to do their part in supporting local restaurants.

The restaurants implemented new technologies at a record pace, however, they were spending record amounts in implementing the new technology.  Many restaurants were asking themselves how much of the technology is here to stay.  The answer depends on what the plan is to brand your restaurant moving forward. The prediction is that we are going to see a divide in the hospitality industry.

One direction your restaurant moves towards is rebranding as a fast food or counter service type of restaurant.  You will receive most of your orders via online ordering or kiosk ordering on site.  This may vary from an actual kiosk station to opting to use QR codes on the table, allowing your customers to place the order themselves.  You could consider moving your beverage station to the dining room where customers can serve themselves.  You may even consider eliminating the dining room all together and   go to a ghost kitchen with delivery only.

Now we find ourselves on the opposite end of the spectrum. What was formerly known as casual dining will need to transform to more of an upscale dining experience.  Your customers will come in to enjoy full service with drink refills and server interaction.  However, the experience will need to be great because your customer will be paying more for this experience than ever before.  The price of their meal will not be an issue so long as the experience leaves them wanting to return and share their experience with their network.

No matter the direction you decide, the new technology is here to stay. More people understand how to use and sometimes prefer using delivery services, online ordering and eating at home. The key to keeping the technology cost down is to work with a partner who not only integrates all of the services into one product, but one that you can trust to support and implement these products for you.