March Restaurant Industry Roundup: Coronavirus & Restaurants
As restaurants attempt to shift to off-premise strategies to continue to generate revenue, the industry has seen an overall decrease in tickets. There’s been so much news covering COVID-19 and its destruction of our economy that for March’s roundup, we’ve gathered some of the more immediate concerns surrounding the pandemic’s toll on the restaurant industry. Grab your carryout order to help support your favorite restaurant and read our March restaurant industry roundup with your lunch.
Postmates and Contactless Delivery
At the beginning of March, Postmates introduced contactless delivery options to help flatten the curve of infections with COVID-19. Postmates rolled out Dropoff Options, which allows customers to state their delivery preferences between the regular delivery or non-contact options. With the non-contact option, the delivery order would be left at the customer’s door so that customers and drivers never have to meet face-to-face. Once a customer completes their order, they can choose their delivery option at checkout.
According to Postmates, once contactless delivery launched, they knew their customers would “prefer a non-contact delivery experience” to provide customers more options when it comes to off-premise dining. Contactless delivery methods were initially adopted in China and Hong Kong after their outbreaks. As with other measures, reducing human contact to help reduce the spread COVID-19 is the goal of the contactless delivery efforts.
The $2 Trillion Economic Stimulus Plan and Your Restaurant
Congress passed a bill, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to provide stimulus checks to lower and middle-income Americans, which include restaurant workers that have been displaced by the pandemic. The bill is designed to help workers and the upheaval of business within the restaurant industry alike. CARES entitles small and medium-sized businesses to federal loans that are circumstantially forgivable depending on whether or not workers stay on payroll or are re-hired. Some more good news: gig workers and independent contractors are also eligible for unemployment benefits.
So how else does the CARES Act help restaurants?
- Tax benefits – new “employee retention tax credit.”
- Temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program
- Quality Improvement Property (QIP)
Tips on Pivoting to Delivery and Takeout Only
Restaurants are faced with a unique challenge dealing with coronavirus, as most are only generating 10 percent of their usual revenue with off-premise efforts alone. For example, The One Group is pulling in between $300,000 to $400,000 a week across all its concepts. And that’s just so far.
As the pandemic persists, restaurateurs have two options: stay open for takeout and delivery or close their doors until regular business continues. The National Restaurant Association surveyed over 4,000 operators and found that 3 percent of restaurants had closed their doors permanently; 44 percent shut down temporarily, and 11 percent were considering closing their doors permanently within the next month.
Off-premise isn’t a blanket solution for all restaurant operators. Some restaurants must change their business model to include off-premise strategies. Where can restaurants begin? FSR Magazine recommends these seven tips:
- Create a menu specifically for takeout – offer a few of your most popular items; not the full menu
- Use an efficient ordering system – let your customers order via phone, your website or mobile pay
- Consider curbside pickup – once you have a drive-thru or curbside option, tell your customers about it
- Offer grab-and-go products – pizza is a popular option for this
- Try out delivery service, even if it’s temporary
- Prioritize sanitation – follow the guidelines of the CDC to keep your employees and customers safe
- Share off-premise news from vetted sites across multiple channels
Using Instagram Tutorials To Help Keep the Lights On
States are increasingly tightening restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus. Juliet and Peregrine had to close their dining rooms in Massachusetts. Joshua Lewin, a restaurateur, realized the importance of creating a new revenue stream to maintain the brands and their 50 employees. His team developed plans for a zine, Bean Zine, filled with quarantine cooking advice. Then, the restaurant group launched a streaming channel offered for free on Instagram and YouTube. The streaming content includes how-to cocktail videos. Customers are also encouraged to donate through Vimeo. One hundred percent of the proceeds donated will go straight to Juliet + Company’s labor budget.
In the coming weeks, Juliet + Company will expand its content from cooking demonstrations to skill sharing videos and videos filled with business tips. Overall, Lewin is working to provide entertaining and informative content for their customers. Lewin’s goal is to maintain “the security of knowing that work is still here” when it comes to his 50 employees.
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About the Author
Devyn Nance is the Marketing Coordinator at QSR Automations. She graduated from the University of Louisville with a bachelor’s degree in Communication and from Loyola University Chicago with a master’s degree in Global Strategic Communication. She considers herself an (amateur) profiler – trained solely from watching every episode of Criminal Minds. Outside of work, Devyn loves to shop, travel, hang out with friends and family, read, and watch shows on various streaming platforms.