As much as the pandemic has transformed the foodservice industry, the return of foot traffic compels restaurant operators to return to an emphasis on brick-and-mortar design as they rebalance off-premise and onsite business.
When it comes to digital innovation, Shake Shack has poured it on thick—so much so that even as in-store traffic returns, digital remains a powerful revenue engine, driving 43% of sales (app, website and delivery) in the first quarter of 2022.1 While the fast-casual supernova has become renowned for its forward-thinking, tech-driven off-channel integrations, it was actually teetering on the brink of a precipitous nosedive before it took the seismic shift that jump-started sales during the pandemic.
It’s comforting to think that however much the foodservice landscape shifts, comfort food retains its appeal and can be counted on by operators to serve up sales.
One of the greatest and most far-reaching ramifications of the pandemic for foodservice operations across segments has been its transformative impact on labor. A once-robust buffet of staffing options has become slim pickings for many operators who scramble to find enough employees to ensure a worthy customer experience. And with labor costs rising, staffing has not only become scarce, but it’s also increasingly pricey at a time when margins continue to be especially tight.
As the catalyst for industrywide disruptions, the pandemic has proven that, once again, necessity is the mother of invention. Labor-saving automation and robotics, personalized in-app experiences, AI-enabled digital menu boards and numerous other tech advances became mission critical as the hunger for contactless convenience and greater operational efficiency intensified.