Business Trends: How COVID-19 Is Changing the Restaurant Industry


This year has been a tough one for all industries, but one that has been particularly poorly affected has been the restaurant industry. With the repeated lockdowns, fewer people than ever before are eating out. Many restaurants have struggled to continue to function effectively. Many have had to close doors permanently. Most have had to make big adjustments to stay open.

It’s safe to say that while these measures are ultimately temporary, the effects of them will be lasting. The long-term effects will be significant for those in the food-service and restaurant industries. 

It’s essential to understand how COVID-19 has changed the restaurant industry to know how to adapt now and what to expect in the future.

Better Employee Care

One positive that will come out of this pandemic is in better care for employees. In the past, the mentality has been to work through sickness. Limited sick leave, especially if it’s unpaid, is often not enough for most employees to recover and return to work. 

With the high transmission rate of COVID-19, any employee with symptoms needs to be given a long time at home to wait until they are not contagious. When someone presents with COVID-19 symptoms in your restaurant, they need to be able to isolate with pay so that they can continue to live. 

There have been increases in the government’s care to support businesses by paying these additional costs. In the future, restaurants need to alter their sick pay policies to ensure that people can stay at home to recover going forward.

Moving Online

The pandemic has forced many business premises to shut down or limit in-person service. Those that already had online presences had to increase it and rely on it more. Others had to start one for the first time. 

More people are choosing to stay indoors with the current health concerns. ToGo Technologies, a company that manages restaurant ordering, says that more restaurants are relying on an app for online orders to help with the increased takeout and delivery orders. 

Not only do restaurant owners find online ordering a much more convenient way to manage orders, but customers also love the convenience of being able to place an order and pay online for delivery. It also helps to alleviate the pressure on a restaurant to seat everyone and have to turn people away.

Budgeting Ease

Customers are feeling the pinch of the pandemic more now than ever. With people being put on leave and being laid off from their usual jobs, the struggle is very real for people to keep up with their finances. Given that so many customers will now have to adjust how much they spend on eating out, this will affect restaurants they might have frequented. 

Restaurants may need to get creative in order to manage their expenses during times of decreased customer spending. By offering online discounts and family order deals, restaurants can appeal to different customers and former customers who are more financially cautious now.

Communication Increase

Previous to the pandemic, restaurants didn’t communicate with customers often outside of in person service. However, the pandemic has pushed restaurants to move online, which has been a blessing for many establishments. 

With a bigger and better online communication system and social media presence, restaurants are doing better. Discounts can be advertised and loyalty programs can be discussed. It has been essential to communicate with customers who need clarity on opening times and policies related to safety. 

Customers have come to expect and look for more communication from restaurants to have available information before they even come in. This will likely continue to be a pattern as customers are more accustomed to look for online communication from the restaurant rather than just showing up in person.

Changes Ahead 

While the restaurant industry is changing, it’s vital to remember that it’s not just changing for the customer, but for employees and staff going forward. Your whole business model may rely on entertaining in-house, but adaptation is a must to keep your business thriving. 

With changes in employee care, increased online presence, budgeting awareness, and improved communication, restaurants can expect to see significant changes carry through into the future.