The Challenges Facing The Restaurant Industry And What The Future Holds In 2021Ella Nordell-Morris
This past year has been quite a whirlwind for the restaurant industry. With over a million restaurant locations in the U.S. alone and being worth over 899 billion dollars, this industry was hit harder than any other during the outbreak of COVID-19. The 15.6 million employees in this industry were left panicking as cloursers hit, one after the other. Many unaccountable and uncontrollable factors such as the weather, COVID-19 spikes, and trend changes have all contributed to the unthinkable loss and strife in the restaurant industry.
We are going to take a look at some of the struggles that restaurants are grappling with, the ways they are coping, what to expect in the coming year, and how restaurants can prepare for the future.
Restaurants and other eating establishments have been experiencing different ongoing struggles as the pandemic continues. A state’s weather, population size, number of COVID cases, social climate, etc., will change the way it experiences struggles. Though each area experiences a different set of challenges, the amount of strife and stress is the same across the board.
Outdoor dining became unappealing to customers when colder temperatures approached in many states. Dining became exclusively indoor and the small establishments, like those in New York, were only allowed to bring in a limited percentage of customers. With the loss of outdoor dining revenue, restaurants in New York have been suffering a large financial loss.
Those that were able to accommodate outdoor dining in the winter months were hit with the expenses that were required to purchase and install outdoor dining structures. Many restaurants were not able to invest the thousands of dollars needed into these outdoor structures. Restaurant owners were forced to choose between an expensive gamble that could potentially bring in more business or, save money and rely on limited indoor capacity.
Continuous COVID outbreaks
As the second wave of the virus has been hitting the United States, many densely populated states, such as New York, have reintroduced strict lockdowns. As cases and hospitalizations rose, restaurants were one of the first industries to go under strict lockdown. It has been a continual start-and-stop recovery for many restaurant operators across the United States. In some areas, restaurants reopened their dining rooms only to close them again weeks later after a local surge in COVID-19 cases.
Due to the reinstating of strict lockdowns across the country and the lack of revenue, businesses are having a hard time keeping up with various payments. The current income is typically not enough to keep up with costs such as rent, utilities, food, and staffing costs. Because of this, many restaurants are having a hard time paying their bills.
These lingering expenses are overwhelming many restaurants. Some of the restaurants in harder-hit states, such as New York, are predicting that 54 percent of restaurants will close within the next six months. This is compared to a closure prediction of 37 percent of restaurants throughout the nation. If all current estimates are correct, about 8,333 restaurants, 4,500 in New York City, have already permanently shut down, according to the New York State Restaurant Association.
Looking ahead into 2021
With all the obstacles facing the restaurant industry, there have been many strides that have been made to stay open. Many are hopeful for a brighter and safer 2021. The introduction of vaccines, approval of the budget proposed aid, and consideration of grants for recovery all contribute to the hope that is to come for restaurants in 2021. All of this considered, here are some of our predictions for the new year.
The future of outdoor dining
When states issued mandates that limited the amount of people in public places, many restaurants relied on outdoor dining to serve customers in a safe way and to continue service. Realizing the costs for outdoor dining, restaurants started adding additional fees to the bills of diners. This fee helps to cover rent, labor, and the costs of the outdoor dining structures. Even after the pandemic, it is predicted that many restaurants will continue and expand outdoor dining options.
Expansion of private dining
Private dining became increasingly popular during the pandemic and has been predicted to continue to grow in the coming years. Because private dining additions are typically a one-time investment and require minimal updates, many see them continuing to be popular past the pandemic. Additionally, some high-end restaurant chefs have begun to offer private dining services to maintain a source of income. It is a safe way for people to enjoy a high-end experience and it is predicted that this kind of dining will become more popular as the year continues.
More carry out and delivery
Another major shift in the restaurant industry during this time has been the expansion of delivery and carry out services. Due to this, many customers have gotten used to and enjoyed eating restaurant-quality food from the comfort and safety of their own homes. The delivery services many restaurants established during COVID-19 will continue to be in place and thrive after the pandemic, only if they can find ways to avoid the costly third-party fees.
As the restaurant industry recovers, know that there are many resources you can use to help with growth and restoration. Visit our website to find out ways you can use DineMarket as a resource in your restaurant’s recovery. The process of recovery will take time and organization, but there is hope for revival and growth in the restaurant industry for years to come.