The pandemic hasn’t just shifted the focus to takeout and delivery; it’s driven foodservice down a road of constant twists and turns, with no path back to business as usual. A vaccine is on the horizon, but COVID-19 has forced approximately 17% of U.S. restaurants to close,1 and concerns over its spread continue to have a negative impact on the bottom line. While the holiday season is normally a time when operators can expect a business boost, in 2020 eat, drink and be merry became eat, drink ... and be very careful.
The pandemic has put a spotlight on off-premises business as major chains and independent operators strive to whip up recipes for success under challenging circumstances. Capacity restrictions, shutdowns and consumer safety concerns may have stalled in-store traffic, but the off-premises revenue engine continues to steer foodservice in the direction of delivery and takeout.
Strong off-premises capabilities have become the not-so-secret sauce of success for foodservice operators during the COVID-19 crisis. Pizza chains in particular have become delivery powerhouses.
Months into the pandemic, drive-thrus have become reliable revenue engines that offer consumers a coveted combination of convenience and safety. According to the location technology company Bluedot, 74% of people have used drive-thrus the same amount or more often than usual since the onset of COVID-19—a 43% increase from April.1
Downsized menus are a must for many operators re-orienting their businesses for less dine-in and more off premise sales. Major chains have been at the forefront of shrinking menus to achieve more manageable margins during the pandemic.