May Restaurant Industry News Roundup
Five months into the new year and there has been so much restaurant industry news. We figured we’d lighten the load and create a charcuterie board of May’s news samples to give you a little taste of what the world has to offer. We’ll start with our protein, some positive news from across the pond, then move into varying vintages of news from expert predictions on aspiring culinarians, the continuing supply chain shortage issues, and the introduction of a new robot server. These small bites in our May Restaurant Industry News Roundup won’t stuff you but will leave your palate delighted.
Restaurant Sales Up!
Comparatively to 2019 levels, last weekend’s restaurant sales in England were up by 36% as reported by Tenzo. Saturday, May 22 marked the first weekend those customers were able to dine indoors in 2021. Overall, in the F&B business, the week had a 5% increase over 2019 with delivery and takeaway making up 40% of total sales. Tenzo’s CEO says that the way businesses have adapted is amazing and that they will continue to have to adapt as they deal with the demand for dine-in traffic and delivery.
Knowing Is Half the Battle
Rick Smilow, Chairman and CEO of the Institute of Culinary Education, is optimistic about the future of the restaurant industry beyond the pandemic and is sharing his optimism with incoming culinary students. Since the pandemic hamstrung the industry, Smilow’s goal is simple: to restore confidence in those that are choosing to pursue a career in the culinary arts. Smilow recommends “adapting expectations” based on what we learned over the past year. He uses the example of students starting at smaller venues in their hometowns and gaining experience within those restaurants. With the introduction of vaccines and dining restrictions waning, on the restaurant side, Smilow predicts independent restaurants are going to “weather the storm” and “enter a golden age of dining and culinary development.”
When it comes to the public Smilow says, “2020’s prohibitions led us to discover why we like restaurants, why we need restaurants, why we go out. If restaurants only existed for nourishment, they wouldn’t exist.”
Supply Chain Shortage Sauce Chronicles
Due to supply chain issues, Chick-fil-A is limiting the number of sauces that come which order. At the beginning of May, sauces were limited to one sauce per entrée and two sauces per meal. A public statement from the company stated that they were “actively working to make adjustments to solve this issue quickly.” This is the latest hit to the fast-food segment as it continues to face issues with labor and supply chains, following reports of a ketchup shortage in April.
Chicken is also in high demand, due to the lasting effects of the continued chicken sandwich wars. There is an industry-wide shortage of chicken and companies that can procure poultry are “paying steep prices” for the product.
Meet A.S.T.R.O., A Robot Waiter in Miami!
Miami-based Sergio’s has taken inspiration from the Jetsons. Automated Service Tray Removal Organizer (ASTRO) carries plates around uses sensors to navigate through the restaurant. He’s multi-lingual (and brushing up on his Spanish). ASTRO came about because of the labor shortage. To help alleviate employee burnout, Sergio’s leadership reached out to Bear Robotics, a company that specializes in automated robots specifically for the restaurant and hospitality industry.
Right now, ASTRO helps to carry food trays and return soiled dishes to the kitchen. However, Sergio’s chain wants to implement other Servi robots in locations across South Florida. This will allow the human employees to get back to helping customers “in more human ways.”
According to Geoff Luebkemann, the senior vice president of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, as life slowly returns to some semblance of normal, “that created a ‘perfect storm’ for automated technology to expand in the industry.” Luebkemann, like other food industry experts, predicts that these technologies will continue to be adapted to improve the guest experience.
May Restaurant Industry News Roundup – Conclusion
As we wrap up our May Restaurant Industry New Roundup, the good news is that there is plenty of good news going around. Federal bailout funds continue to roll out to restaurant operations impacted by the pandemic, and vaccinated guests are out and eager to dine in. We’re looking forward to even better news tomorrow as the world returns to some sense of normalcy and the restaurant industry continues to heal. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comment section below.
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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.