This article is part of Raydiant’s Future of The Restaurant Industry series, which aims to provide insights, ideas, and resources to business owners and executives so that they may have greater perspective on what the future of restaurants could look like, including the impact of COVID-19.
What’s the future of restaurants?
Kelly Richardson, Founder of VENONE
In the future, dining in restaurants is going to continue to look different, and restaurants that are positioning themselves for the long-term through the COVID pandemic are going to do just fine. It’s important for restaurant owners and operators to keep in mind that dining as we once knew it, probably won’t be back for a long-time. The good news is that restaurants that continue to pivot will make it. I have many restaurant clients right now that have returned to 90% of the revenue that they were making pre-pandemic on a modified version of service, so survival is possible, but requires business owners to make smart decisions.
Rodion Yeroshek, Co-Founder & CEO of Poster
A person comes to a casual restaurant, orders their favorite meal on their smartphone. The meal is prepared quickly with significant automation in the back of house, delivered to the table by robots, and the bills automatically deducted from the client’s account while he walks out the door. This is the restaurant of the future.
Chris Boyles, VP of Food Safety for Steritech
For fast food, as self-driving cars continue to become more sophisticated, the drive-thru may evolve for a pre-order lane. The driver orders a meal using voice commands. The navigation system finds the nearest compatible restaurant, places the order, and then reroutes the vehicle. It arrives just in time to pick up the freshly-prepared order and barely stops long enough for the handoff before driving away, payment handled automatically. We may eventually simply send an empty car to pick up the food and bypass the delivery driver as well.
From a food safety perspective, far UVC light is a growing area where the light destroys germs but doesn’t harm humans. Maybe this replaces our constant disinfection of frequently touched surfaces. And sensors technology is advancing rapidly. There are already sensors that can monitor food for shelf-life attributes and sanitizer for proper concentration. As the preparation and cooking processes become more automated, sensors may also be able to ensure greater safety..
The role of many employees may evolve from manual tasks to more human interaction. The food itself may no longer be enough to draw people to a restaurant since it’s so easy to have it delivered to your home. Restaurants may compete by creating more and more elaborate experiential dining, whether it’s adventuresome, like dining in the dark, or communal, where our social media habits organize dining events with like-minded individuals.
Rom Krupp, Founder and CEO of OneDine
Restaurants are here to stay, but we will see more experiential restaurants as consumers are looking to combine other activities with dining.
Labor costs are also going to continue driving automation inside a restaurant’s four walls. Because of this, we’ll see a lot more self-service options, allowing guests to order, pay and serve themselves. Automatic beer taps, which allow guests to pour their own drinks, are one example that’s already taking off.
Meaghan Brophy, Retail Analyst at FitSmallBusiness
Subscriptions: For restaurants with large customer bases and name recognition, or restaurants that offer unique cuisine or dining experiences, subscriptions can be a good way to expand revenue models outside of sit-down dining. This is especially true for businesses that aren’t a good fit for takeout or delivery. Meal kits and ingredients or wine subscriptions, if done well, can be an interesting way to keep and expand your customer base.
Local is King: People really care about their favorite local joints. The future of restaurants is small and local businesses, particularly those that know and understand the particular neighborhood that they operate in.
Candace MacDonald, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Carbonate
Restaurants of the future will be multifaceted, harvesting technology to operate efficiently, but offering a full range of services, from dine-in to delivery, meal kits and take-and-bake meals, and prepared sauces to go, cooking classes and wine tastings, interacting in even more ways with their community. These restaurants will also be focused, targeting the issues and foods they are passionate about while paying more attention to what works, what doesn’t, and taking a data-driven approach to adjust quickly.
Ingrid Hoffmann, Author, Chef and Host of Top Chef Estrellas and Simply Delicioso
If all things continue as they stand today the predictions for recovery are a minimum of 3 years, let’s see who can survive staying afloat, at least one in five restaurants won’t be able to do so.
Restaurants need to push government for legislation/bills that will cover some sort of either tax or like social security pay in program for pandemic disaster help to owners and workers, most of small businesses did not get PPP money and insurance companies are not covering since it is not flood or fire. There are serious issues that need to be addressed and activated now.
Josh Lang, Founder of Pink Cloud Media
You are going to see an influx of small, fast-casual concepts that can get customers in and out safely and efficiently.
The days of your customers sitting in a restaurant are over in the United States. COVID is destroying that business model.
David Litchman, Founder of BellyMelly
The Mom and Pop restaurants will struggle as chains with advanced technology will create better options.
Cloud kitchens will allow chains to keep costs down and backed by strong technology they will be at the forefront of consumers.