April 13, 2020
The swift spread of COVID-19 has changed the world, stopping everyday life in its tracks seemingly overnight. Nonessential businesses are closed, toilet paper shelves are empty, and millions of people are out of work. While many industries are affected, few have felt the pain like restaurants. With social distancing rules keeping customers from filling tables, restaurants have found themselves with mounting costs and nowhere to turn. Some restaurants made the decision to shut down and hope for the best, but others are valiantly working to keep their doors open.
With the social isolation measures forced by state and local governments, restaurants have found themselves facing a scary reality: no customers and no realistic timeline for guests to return. Even before restaurants were forced to close, the writing was on the wall: By mid-March, restaurants saw connections drop by 54%. While takeout still remains an option across the country – with some jurisdictions extending this to include beer, liquor and mixed drinks – nothing can rival a standard dining atmosphere.
Some restaurants that previously eschewed delivery are opening their doors to takeout, but few, if any, traditional dine-in restaurants are seeing adequate results. In New York City, some restaurants attempted delivery only to find themselves processing only a few orders a day. Those who were already reliant on delivery, like pizzerias, however, aren't feeling the pain quite as significantly; pizza delivery spiked 44% as standard restaurants started to shutter.
Restaurant management teams have found themselves in uncharted territory. People aren't able to dine, but costs keep coming. Rent is still due, any remaining staff needs to be paid, taxes are due on local, state and federal levels, and any inventory in-house is effectively rendered worthless.
While these financial implications are painful and may force some restaurants to ultimately close for good, one challenge looms larger than all the rest: uncertainty. As the COVID-19 battle rages on, there is no indication as to when society can start to heal. Governments continue to extend stay-at-home orders, with many expecting to stay closed through May and potentially beyond. Restaurants may be able to tread water temporarily, but as the lockdowns continue, the future becomes murkier.
The uncertain nature of COVID-19's impact makes it hard to know what the solution may be. However, restaurants dedicated to staying open should arm themselves in the best ways possible to weather the storm.
Takeout is an option all restaurants can embrace, but with traveling outside discouraged, many people are hesitant to pick up orders themselves. Those with access to drivers may find that expanding operations results in additional business. However, third-party delivery can also be a benefit.
Services like Uber Eats and Skip the Dishes can help you get your food to customers' doors in next to no time. And, as these services tend to corner 20% of the market each, taking advantage of multiple apps increases visibility and increases your chance of seeing more sales. For those unsure where to start, Cuboh can help you join every platform available in your area without increasing the hassle. In essence, it's online ordering on autopilot.
Few customers want to pick up the phone and place an order; they want to order online. Restaurants that do not currently have an online ordering platform are encouraged to develop one, and fast.
Joining Grubhub or DoorDash can definitely make a difference, but a customized experience can also be a benefit for customers. Many companies, like Craver, U Eat, and Moduurn, can provide white-glove services so that you can take advantage of your own site or mobile app to draw in customers while providing exceptional service.
Gift cards weren't of much value in your restaurant before, but they are and will be in the future. Many restaurants are selling gift cards to be used once the fury of coronavirus dies down in order to generate revenue and cover current costs. Websites are even available in some areas to outline which storefronts are selling gift cards so that customers can better support their favourites.
In trying times, it's important for business models to stay flexible. Virtual kitchens, or pop-up kitchen spaces for the online world, allow for creativity and service outside the confines of a normal dining setting, can be a benefit when the dining room is closed. If there are certain food items in demand in your local area, operating a virtual kitchen can allow you to take advantage of market trends without deviating from normal business. Also considering investing in fast virtual products – partnerships with well-known brands, like Ben & Jerry's, Cinnabon, and The Cheesecake Factory, that cater to virtual kitchens can help jumpstart your operations and create new, unexpected revenue flows.
Around the country, restaurants are standing in solidarity with healthcare workers. Movements like Feed the Frontlines work with local restaurants to purchase mass quantities of meals that are then provided to the doctors and nurses working to save lives in hospitals. Funded by generous community donations, large-scale purchases to feed healthcare workers can drive business, keep employees on the payroll, and generate a little goodwill.
The COVID-19 crisis is affecting life for everyone, and that includes restaurant workers. If you want to keep the doors open and the cash coming while waiting for a light at the end of the tunnel, the right perspective is critical. Book a 15-minute consultation with us to learn more about online ordering, virtual kitchens and how to make the most of lockdown.
A virtual restaurant is, effectively, a restaurant kitchen that doesn't offer dine-in service. Also called ghost kitchens, these venues simply offer take-away food that they promote with their online storefront and menu. As more and more of these restaurants open shop, the need for traditional brick-and-mortar eateries to be online is absolute.
Marketing may not come naturally to many restaurant owners and managers, but a solid grasp of the basics can be the difference between a full house and a distinct lack of customers. These five creative ways to market your restaurant online can increase your likelihood of success, positioning you to drive revenue and please customers.
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