The pandemic-propelled shift to off-premises is reshaping the restaurant landscape, literally, as smaller-footprint stores designed for digital and drive-thru orders emerge. In August 2020, the Mexican food chain Taco Bell served up the hot news of its new store format, Taco Bell Go Mobile, which will cater to customers hungry for the speed and convenience of double drive-thrus, contactless curbside pickup and digital integration.
As coronavirus rates fluctuate, one thing holds steady—the need for innovation due to the market’s insatiable appetite for safety, ease and convenience. The new norm is fueled by digital advances, and the road leads to ever-accelerating innovation as foodservice operators navigate the challenges of the pandemic and the shifting needs of the consumer.
The pandemic has propelled the restaurant industry in different directions—some new and unexpected (think social distancing and face masks), others more familiar (the drive-thru, for example). In the case of takeout in general and the drive-thru in particular, "back to basics" has jumpstarted traffic and revved up revenue.
Even as COVID-19 restrictions ease, foodservice operators must always be mindful of the insatiable (and understandable!) consumer hunger for safety and trust.
No surprise, then, that the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and ServSafe, the food and beverage safety training and certificate program it administers, have updated their guidelines to reflect the latest from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dining indoors is still taking a backseat to delivery and other off-premises channels, according to the market research firm Technomic.1 While onsite dining restrictions have been easing in most parts of the country and 41% of consumers surveyed had dined on premises (compared with 16% in May), off-premises remains the method of choice for most foodservice customers.1