Major restaurant chains had no choice but to flex their off-premises muscle when COVID-19 hit. As discussed in a previous post, bigger proved to be better during the pandemic, as large chains were able to rely on and build out their already well-developed delivery, takeout and drive-thru capabilities. Digital ordering linked consumers to foodservice with contactless ease and became a lifeline that made the difference in whether operations sank or swam in a rising tide of restrictions and infection rates.
The tide may be turning, but it can still be a struggle for operators to keep their head above water. Despite a surge of government funding for restaurant relief, rising vaccination rates and receding restrictions, 39% of restaurants—about 2 out of every 5—couldn’t cover their June rents, according to survey data from the lead generation platform Alignable.1
Restaurants are hungry to return to normal—and while “normal” may be a thing of the past as the aftershocks of the pandemic continue to transform foodservice, operators are already getting a taste of a business boost.
It’s no secret that top restaurant brands like Domino’s and McDonald’s navigated the pandemic more nimbly than small operations, which often ate heavy losses due to a lack of robust off-premises channels. Expedited by the ease and convenience of digital ordering, takeout, delivery and drive-thru service all proved to be powerful revenue engines for major players when in-store traffic slowed to a crawl or came to a screeching halt.
Roiled by the pandemic, 2020 became the year of transformation for the foodservice industry. Regroup, reassess and reinvent have become the gotta-get-it-done directives for foodservice operators, topping the menu of must-dos for moving forward.