The foodservice industry is in a wretched state right now, and restaurants have limited choices: to close down or operate minimally. Either way, both scenarios guarantee a downfall in sales and revenue. So the big question among business owners is: “Where do we go from here?”
We don’t have a clear outlook yet of the post-COVID-19 world but one of the joys we can derive from the stark reality is that restaurants are getting more creative in adapting and finding solutions (no matter how temporary they may seem) for the future of the industry. Here are some trends that are arising around the world:
Rise of ready-made meals
Take-home meals and ready-to-cook frozen goods have boomed since the enhanced community quarantine was enforced—from fast food favorites Jollibee and McDonald’s to Mendokoro Ramenba’s shiio and shoyu ramen and Locavore’s sizzling sinigang. Other restaurants that offer pastries and pizzas have also explored new product formats such as baking and pizza kits meant for assembly at home.
Restaurants can also try out wildly entertaining trends and strategies that coincide with special celebrations. In the US, for example, seafood restaurant Red Lobster recently launched a date night package for those who miss dinner dates with loved ones. The good-for-two package includes an appetizer, entrée, side dish, and dessert. It also comes with a Spotify playlist and Zoom backgrounds to deliver an amusingly authentic experience.
Drive-thru dining concepts are also expected to surge after the pandemic ends. A survey conducted by Datassential found that cars serve as “additional protective barriers” from other people when ordering food from a drive-thru, which makes it a preferred service compared to pickup and delivery.
Drive-in movie theaters are also making a comeback by turning parking spaces into places for entertainment. It’s a safe way to be entertained; people don’t have to sit close to strangers and is also a great way to market a business. All it takes is a spot-on movie, a spacious area, and a masterful menu.
Serious case of social distancing
Some restaurants even go the extra mile to serve a unique dining experience to customers, given that social distancing has become be the norm. A restaurant in Sweden called Bord för En, which translates to table for one, has no waiters and only serves one customer per day. The three-course seasonal meals will be delivered via wooden basket attached to a rope and customers will decide on how much they will pay based on their experience.
Another noteworthy setup is Serres Séparées in Amsterdam, which means separate greenhouses. The project is inspired by greenhouses, made into miniature versions for two to three people and placed outside the ETEN Restaurant located in the Mediamatic Arts Center. Aside from being enclosed in a glass cabin to implement social distancing from other guests, waiters are also equipped with personal protective equipment and use long boards to deliver dishes to minimize physical contact with customers. This is an impressive take on intimate dining while still making sure that safety is still a priority.
The foodservice industry is full of creative and innovative minds that are more than willing to go beyond the ordinary dine-in and takeout services. As local businesses slowly juggle the possibilities of what the future could look like, it turns out that for as much darkness as the industry is facing right now, there is still ample room for refreshing trends and enlightening innovations.