The coronavirus has disrupted our way of life more than one can imagine. The quarantine and social distancing life that we’ve all been forced into out of necessity has kept us generally safe from the pandemic.
However, its effects on the food industry have also been damning.
Restaurants relish on the concept of people in an enclosed space where their senses are heightened not only with the food they enjoy. The ambience and service also add to the overall experience that dining out in restaurants provide.
But COVID19 drove a wedge between businesses and its consumers, much to the detriment of the industry. Having a restaurant accept diners at the height of the outbreak is a recipe for disaster. The risks of customers and staff contracting the disease is at an all-time high.
Worse, independent stores are closing down, and people are losing jobs because of it.
The survival of the fittest
However, if there’s anything that Charles Darwin taught us, it’s the ability of people to turn lemons into lemonades. For instance, businesses imposed remote work to continue with operations under less-than-ideal conditions.
But that’s because the wheel has to keep turning – if it’s possible to work while without putting people at risk, then they should do whatever is necessary.
Set up delivery systems
Restaurants with delivery services were able to survive the temporary shutting down of their business for the time being. Most of them even adopted a no-contact delivery system to ensure that the spread of the disease is kept to a bare minimum, if not eliminated from the equation completely.
Food stores without delivery services slowly but surely offered this to the public in the hopes of getting something going during the pandemic. While some don’t have an ecommerce mobile conversion in place, they were still able to transition rather smoothly to delivering food to their customer’s place.
Take chef and owner of Washington D.C. restaurante Ristorante i Ricchi Christianne Ricchi. Because of the pandemic, she launched a four-course Italian dinner for order and pickup. Named the I Ricchi Food Club, Christianne had 80% of its total customers sign up to a four-week subscription of its dinner with a 20% discount in total.
Her story, among many others, shows that resiliency can go a long way. It’s just a matter of mindset for these people – instead of waiting for the pandemic to die down, Christianne and others decided to take matters into their own hands and brought the dining experience to the homes of people.
The new normal
Ultimately, as most pandemics go, the cases would slowly decrease as a cure should be available to the public. Currently, as most countries were able to contain the disease, they have opened up select stores with safety precautions in place to keep everyone as safe as possible.
Australian food critic Besha Rodell shared her thoughts about her profession amidst COVID19. In a nutshell, she danced on the idea that restaurants serve not only as a haven for the appetite, but also a respite from normalcy. Dining out at one of your favorite restaurants is a treat that you gave yourself once in a while to break the holding pattern of life. And due to the pandemic, that respite was taken away from her.
If she as a food critic feels this way, others would too.
However, one thing is clear: restaurants, and most businesses in general, must find a way to be agile and adapt with the changes around them. For some, folding when the cards aren’t in their favor is not an option. They have to continue operations and make the most out of a terrible situation to survive.
Restaurants can observe the latest safety precautions and employ out-of-the-box marketing campaigns to generate new customers and revenue. However, that doesn’t solve the inherent flaw that people still have to dine in to immerse themselves into the food and the experience.
At best, the food industry needs to strike a balance between dining at a restaurant and capturing that experience to people’s homes. It’s going to be a challenge since you simply can’t replicate the environment of restaurant dining elsewhere. Nonetheless, it’s a necessary challenge that could shape the industry for years to come.