The restaurant industry has been forever changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As many restaurant owners were faced with the difficult decision to change or close, new restaurant trends began to emerge. Although the pandemic continues across the globe, in many ways the restaurant industry has strengthened, because restaurateurs have found innovative ways to get their food to people across the U.S. and within their own communities.
Your dining experience may look different once the dust settles in the United States. Here are a few restaurant industry trends that will most likely continue even after the pandemic is over.
Higher Demand for Delivery Services
Online orders are booming, since it isn't safe to eat in a restaurant's dining room. With an upswing in takeout orders, delivery businesses, like GrubHub, Uber Eats, and DoorDash are in as high demand as ever. These third-party delivery services are not only helping you get the food you want from your favorite restaurants, like Taco Bell, McDonalds, or Burger King, they're also providing employment opportunities to many of the people who lost their jobs due to COVID-related company cuts.
When outbreaks spiked in highly-populated cities like New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, these third-party delivery services provided a truly essential service for everyone who couldn't leave their homes. As people get more comfortable using these online delivery services, they will continue to be popular afterwards due to their convenience. After the pandemic, people of all ages will know how to use these delivery platforms, and take advantage of their ease of use whenever they need a break from cooking dinner.
More Exclusive Menus
Due to shortages from suppliers, chefs have had to make their menus more exclusive in terms of offerings. You can see this restaurant trend at top kitchens and diners. Although there may be a smaller selection of menu items, this restaurant trend assures that you're getting the pick of any given restaurant's best dishes. It also cuts back on food waste.
This restaurant trend probably won't be permanent after the pandemic; however, it may take time for the food industry to catch up to demand. Until then, enjoy the ability to have less of a difficult time making your dinner selection.
If you've had food delivered, you may have noticed that it's packaged differently than before. Packaging has been altered for safety during handling. Your container or food may be shrink wrapped to ensure safer delivery.
Since the National Restaurant Association and the CDC are learning new information about how the virus is transmitted every day, it doesn't hurt to provide extra protection to something you're directly ingesting. Although it can be a pain to unwrap, consider it a healthier option than the alternative.
Year-Round Safety Precautions
Even when there isn't a specific disease to worry about, it's likely that customers will continue to see the added safety precautions that have sprung up in restaurants due to COVID. For example, when you're waiting to get your favorite beverage at your local Starbucks coffee shop, you may have noticed plexiglass partitions between you and your Baristas.
Restaurant operators have put up these dividers to keep their employees safer from the airborne particles that spread COVID-19. There are many other nasty diseases, including the common flu, that are spread through sneezing and coughing. It's a safe prediction that the partitions may stay up in order to protect employees from less deadly diseases that can still require the worker to take time off of work if they catch it.
Restaurant owners may continue to require their employees to wear masks even after the pandemic. If you supply employees with the appropriate kind of face covering, and they actually wear it while interacting with customers and other workers, there's a smaller risk of spreading or catching any disease, like the common cold. Last year may have been the last time you saw unmasked individuals serving you at your favorite diner.
This restaurant trend will help to keep you safe. The restaurant business is difficult and often requires waiters, chefs, and other line cooks to come into work even when they're feeling under the weather. By requiring mask wearing at certain times, especially if a worker isn't feeling well, it could help to keep you and your loved ones in good health.
Before the pandemic, restaurants like Panera already had ordering kiosks. Next year, as it becomes safer to go inside restaurants, you may find many more ordering stations like that in food halls and other eateries.
This kind of ordering automation helps with a frictionless experience, because there's less close physical contact between customers and workers. It also should mean less order discrepancies, because you won't have to yell over a crowded restaurant to make your order.
A Closer Look at Wages
As the United States realizes the reality of the finances of many of its citizens, the hope is that minimum wage will increase. Workers, like bartenders, servers, and hosts, provide an essential service and should be paid a living wage.
These workers can come into contact with danger just, because they deal with the general public. As talks about minimum wage continue, whether you're ordering a burger or caviar from somewhere that serves fine dining, remember to tip generously.
A Greater Emphasis on Social Media
If you've been scrolling through Instagram and have noticed that there are more advertisements for restaurants or delivery services in your area, you're not going to lose your mind. It's a whole new market, and the old ways of advertisement don't work anymore. The dining experience is entirely online and in your own home for the most part, and that will survive post-pandemic. Ads on social media work, so they're not going anywhere any time soon.
Much of the world isn't going to look the same post-pandemic. In some ways, like the restaurant industry, that may actually be great news. Protocol should become safer and more efficient after this global experience. With the coming new year comes a new opportunity and a chance for the industry to grow. Hopefully the restaurants can flourish under these new trends.