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COVID-19 Fuels Innovation in Restaurant Industry as Eateries Develop New Offerings to Survive

  • Some restaurants have been surviving, and even thriving, by changing their business models and offerings during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • New order platform, packaged food, and other innovations help eateries adapt to ongoing hardships during pandemic
  • The food service industry has nevertheless been hard-hit by the pandemic, with thousands of restaurants going out of business since the spring

Restaurants have been among the hardest hit businesses during the pandemic, as shutdown orders and capacity restrictions have severed traditional revenue streams for months. The National Restaurant Association estimates that some 100,000 eateries have gone out of business in the past six months, putting some 3 million food service employees out of work.

Yet restaurant owners have actively worked to meet the challenge, coming up with innovative solutions or changes to their business models in order to survive, and even thrive. Fast Company recently looked at the examples offered by three food service professionals, who responded to COVID-19 by creating new delivery platforms, switching from high-end meals to comfort food, introducing packaged food offerings, and pivoting from office lunch deliveries to family-style dinners.

Restaurant owners have developed a variety of strategies to cope with the pandemic, such as setting up additional outdoor dining, smaller menus, and diversified offerings. Some restaurants capitalized on their supply chains by pivoting to grocery sales.

Most eateries began offering services such as online ordering, curbside pickup, takeout or delivery, or drive-through pickup in order to stay open while on-site dining was unavailable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasizes these models as carrying the lowest risk for COVID-19 infection.

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