The Next Wave: How Restaurants Can Adapt in the Age of a Pandemic

With months of closures, thousands of restaurants forced to halt operations, millions of workers unemployed, and billions in lost revenue, the COVID-19 pandemic has arguably been the foodservice industry’s greatest challenge to date. 

Today, the challenges continue, and as the restaurant industry works to reshape the new normal, they must adopt modern and creative ways of thinking and operating. In some cases, businesses already have and will continue to reinvent themselves and employ entirely new business models. It is the only way that they will survive. 

With this in mind, we take a look at what restaurants should be thinking about moving forward. What can businesses do internally and externally to ensure that they are on the road to recovery? How can they ensure that customers are left feeling safe, satisfied, and engaged? 

Below we discuss a few elements that restaurants should consider as they work on refining or redefining the business. 

Support Local Businesses

The COVID-19 pandemic left no industry untouched. With economies taking a massive hit, individuals are more inclined than ever to support local businesses in their own communities.

Restaurants, if not already, will follow suit. Instead of importing ingredients, produce, and meat products, restaurants should see what products are available locally. In doing so, restaurants can save time and money not having to source and import goods from across the border. 

Not only will local businesses thank you, but customers will be more inclined to dine with you. 

Consider a Brand Update

We’re not talking about reinventing the business but rather for restaurant owners to consider whether or not the restaurant requires optimization or elevation in key areas. This can include anything from investing in a new logo, restaurant decor or layout, menu design, new photography, or even something as simple as updating the mission statement and values. These are typically things that take a backseat as the restaurants are busy and restaurant owners cannot dedicate the time to a project like this. With this period of closures, there is nothing but time to look at your brand and think about reintroducing it to your customers.

A Menu Refresh and Refine

Consumer eating habits have changed, and so should restaurant menus. Restaurants need to analyze the past few months, take notes, and align the menu offerings with consumer preferences.

Restaurants should look at what items are driving customers into the restaurant, what are some of the least popular items on the menu, and why. If certain items are unpopular, they should consider replacing or removing them entirely to simplify and streamline the menu. 

For instance, with the current environment and concerns with health and safety, customers will most likely steer clear of buffet or family-style dining. Instead, most will opt for individual, plated meals. In the same breath, restaurants should continue to offer up new dishes to maintain loyal customers and attract new ones. Though there are currently limitations and preferred styles of dining, this should not put a damper on menu offerings. Restaurants should continue to interchange the dishes to reflect seasonal changes and new recipe developments, as was done before the pandemic. 

When developing your offerings, keep in mind that every individual is operating at their own pace. Several customers will continue to utilize delivery and takeout options and indulge in restaurants from a distance until they are ready to join others in-house. That said, given the current environment, restaurants should offer multiple dining options, such as dine-in, delivery, and takeout. Doing so will ensure that your restaurant is accessible to more people (when allowed to do so).

Unfortunately for some, operating delivery through third-party vendors is not an option due to steep pricing. So, this is where restaurants who want to avoid the extra costs can consider reverting to traditional delivery methods by integrating in-house ordering systems and training existing staff members. 

Go Digital

Now is the time to optimize your social media channels. By doing so, restaurants can build trusting, transparent, and lasting relationships with customers, old and new.  

In just a few clicks, restaurants can share information such as the safety measures and precautions taken, updated store hours, new service offers and menu items, and incentives, such as special offers and promotions.

Digital platforms also provide endless opportunities for restaurants looking to engage with current customers and the surrounding community, from interactive events such as cooking classes to live interviews and recipe sharing. 

Lastly, for restaurants interested in targeting new audiences, consider digital advertising. When investing in digital advertising, restaurants have the potential to reach entirely new groups of customers that are in search of the products and experience that they are offering. 

Connect With the Community

Apart from engaging with current and potential customers, remember to connect with others in the community, including talented creators and artists who are passionate about discovering and sharing brand stories. 

Ensure you are connecting with those that align with your brand and who are eager to create content, share their experience, and promote your restaurant, whether in a paid or unpaid capacity. 

It is all about creating a mutually beneficial relationship with those who are equally as passionate about what you offer to the neighbourhood.

Are you looking to increase your brand presence and maintain current as well as attract new audiences? Connect with us at hello@bluedoor.agency, call 1-855-854-5594, or visit our website at bluedoor.agency. We would be happy to set up an introductory call or meeting to discuss how we can help your business.

About the Author:

As a Public Relations Account Lead, Anneliese focuses predominantly on media relations, while also managing day-to-day client communication, influencer campaigns, partnership opportunities, strategy development, and event coordination and support.