It’s no secret that restaurants across America and the world have been in hot water since the beginning of the pandemic. As a result, food service industry businesses have had to pivot in multiple ways, and as a result, they have arrived at a brave new world of dining innovations.
From lockdowns to supply chain issues to the Great Resignation, restaurants have endured one massive blow after another. Some of the upgrades restaurants were forced to make all at once were actually a long time coming. Here is a look at some of the significant innovations that have arisen in the food industry over the last few years.
Front of House and Front Line
Once lockdowns were lifted, restaurants became complex settings with vaccine and mask mandates almost immediately. Often, restaurant workers were the frontline promoters and enforcers of pandemic safety measures.
Many felt that if they are allowed to remove their masks once they are seated, what does it matter to put them back on to go to the washroom or approach staff? But staff and other diners also have a right to feel safe in their working and leisure environments as contracting COVID can have long-standing, not to mention life-threatening, consequences.
Adapting to necessary safety measures, restaurants got creative with plexiglass table dividers and cashier protectors. Also, with help from city governments, many restaurants were able to expand their outdoor seating space into sidewalks, parking lots, and even onto streets.
Restructured Menus and Supply Chain Disruptions
Supply chain disruptions have had a massive impact on most industries, and foodservice and hospitality were no exception. Shortages have even included main ingredients like chicken, avocado, and corn, so that whole menu sections had to be rethought.
The only options restaurants can take in the face of shortages are making substitutions, raising prices, or rewriting the menu.
As a result, some restaurants have been going for a rotating weekly or monthly menu based on product availability. While this has long been a trend for more fine dining bistros, it is becoming a popular option out of necessity.
Alternative Restaurant Venues and Design Aspects
When indoor dining wasn’t closed due to lockdowns, most people still did not want to risk spending time in close proximity to others for fear of the virus. Many restaurants closed, and those that didn’t have to rely principally on takeout and delivery.
Kitchens that focus solely on delivery and takeout (with no dining space) became a great opportunity for chefs and cooks that lost work during the pandemic. With no need for a dining room, these “Ghost Kitchens” could operate just about anywhere from lofts to trailers.
When it came to delivering food, some chefs of elevated cuisine were still not ready to let go of the ability to curate a dining experience in a dining room. Yet, they knew that their food was going to peoples’ homes, and there was no way of predicting the environment or enforcing an ambiance.
But to the delight of many, some chefs nonetheless made efforts to add a little extra to curate their customers' dining experience with playlists and even candles.
Along with expanding the size of outdoor seating, restaurants are also rethinking indoor seating design. The flow of movement and table allocation can be smartly readjusted to reconsider how close people are to one another.
But as well as physical design, there is also a lot of reinvention and rethinking going into the use of analytics in restaurants. Analytics apps and software can be added to existing POS systems to identify customer journeys within the restaurant, report on diner trends and preferences, and make it possible to adapt accordingly.
Throughout COVID, supply chain disruptions have made assumed menu possibilities no longer an option. As well, dietary trends such as “clean eating,” Keto, and paleo have become more entrenched. Analytics in and outside of the restaurant can predict and report on shifting diner pallets to minimize loss and maximize profitability.
Digital Trends in Restaurants
Restaurants have been advanced more than the rapid integration of technological solutions, from using QR codes for contactless menus, tip pooling software, and even robot servers and delivery drivers.
One of the essential facets, which directly responds to a desire to democratize the hospitality hierarchy and keep staff through the Great Resignation, is tip pooling.
TipHaus offers a tip pooling software app that can be added to your existing POS system to provide an accounting technology that offers transparency and saves time. If you are interested in learning more about how TipHaus addresses your staffing and accounting concerns, reach out any time.