Restaurant Recovery So Far
What’s Happening with COVID-19?
It’s been a long year for the foodservice industry, and the world as a whole. Restaurant recovery is on everyone’s minds, but it’s not a clear-cut path back to normal. So far, all American adults are eligible to receive vaccines, and many have already received a shot, with more getting their first every day. Officials put Johnson & Johnson’s back into circulation following further research into the blood clot situation. As a country, we’re hurrying to get people safely vaccinated before the new variants spread too far and restart the damage all over again (both Moderna and Pfizer provide protection against some variant strains, according to the New York Times). We’re learning more about this virus every day.
It’s not all good news, either. There’s a correlation between people who had COVID-19, but not severely enough to need hospitalization, and an increased chance of death within half a year after infection. The Nature study found that, amongst their 73K subjects, the risk of death increases 60% in the six months after they caught coronavirus, compared to people who never got infected. The danger isn’t over.
Meanwhile, customers have different expectations about what returning to normal will look like. From unvaccinated guests, social distance, and mask regulations, there will be an adjustment period to restaurant recovery just as there was when we first quarantined. Be careful and give your business and your customers time to settle in.
What Are Restaurants Doing?
Depending on your city and state, reopening restrictions will look different. For example, Georgia has kept their restaurants open to full capacity since last summer and just reopened bars, too. Other states have only just recommenced indoor dining. Most of the time, restaurants still have social distance measures in place between tables and mask mandates. Since restrictions vary across the country, the speed of restaurant recovery will too.
Finances are slow-growing, too, as people take their time going back to dining out. Restaurants have had to reconsider their priorities. They’ve streamlined operations down to the necessities, including shifting their focus to off-premise channels. They’re also moving away from third-party apps to avoid the high commissions and take home all the profits.
Fortunately, this gives your staff time to get back on track. Owners and workers aren’t used to the old normal any more than customers. Despite concerns that they’ll have to shut down again if they reopen too early, owners don’t want to wait and risk losing much-needed profits either. They’re also having trouble getting people to come back to work.
How Are Employees?
Staff motivation stalled for two reasons. One, they’re also worried that they’ll be furloughed again almost immediately. Secondly, right now a lot of service workers remain on unemployment. With increased government benefits, they’re often making more than they do at work, particularly on part-time wages. If restaurants don’t offer additional perks, like healthcare, for example, they have a tough time getting their employees to return. They’re still concerned about their health and safety, too.
As everyone slowly returns to work, focus not only on re-training them to get back into the rhythm of things but to prepare staff for any situations likely to crop up during the restaurant recovery period. For example, train your managers to respond properly to any situation so your employees can rely on the chain of command when they come up against trouble.
What’s Next for Restaurant Recovery?
As more states reopen and vaccinations roll out, it will get safer for employees to come back to work. Slowly, business will get back to normal even if it doesn’t seem so clear-cut right now. Keep up with your extra sanitation and deep cleaning routine to prevent outbreaks during this tenuous period. Some trends are here to stay long-term anyway, like outdoor dining, to-go alcohol sales, and digital ordering alternatives. They’ve become normalized, and now customers prefer this new dining experience. All of it is likely to stick around long after this viral threat passes.
Restaurant recovery will take place over the next several months. Fortunately, this gives owners time to assess the old way of doing things and come out the other side of this stronger and better prepared than ever. Upgrade your restaurant technology so you’re ready to meet the new day.