The coronoavirus came to change everything
We speak to dozens of chefs and owners of restaurants about what comes next. Thoughts ranged from practicality (disposable menus, additional cleaning protocols, increased takeout options) to broader image reviews such as improved safety nets for workers in restaurants and a broader acceptance of the policies of not tips. Jon Nodler, chef and co-owner of Cadence , the best restaurant new from Food & Wine of 2019, he is one of those who hopes that the crisis will provoke a change in the entire industry.
With Americans longing to dine in restaurants again and eager to support their favorite places, now might be the best time to reset the rules. Read on to see what these industry experts predict (and hope and fear) when restaurants reopen.
Improved health measures and security protocols
“It won't be a big flow, but a trickle for dining out or being around large groups of people in small spaces. We will probably be opening at 50% capacity, and then people will get used to going out again and agree to being with other people and in the restaurant, and you will have to adapt to that. And that may seem single-use menus , cutlery cutlery in some kind of bag , maybe a sign saying that the tables have been disinfected before and after people sit down. Perhaps the waiters wear gloves and masks on the table. —Kwame Onwuachi, Executive Chef, Kith / Kin in Washington, DC
“It is too early to know what regulations will be implemented, which is a problem if we are going to start preparing to reopen. We need guidance from the government on what restrictions there will be, so we are at the forefront of the game. My expectation is that we will see reduced occupancy in dining rooms and areas de bars of our restaurants, contactless payments y disinfectant everywhere for guests and staff. Together we must ensure that we balance the joy of dining with the new realities of COVID-19. " —Jason Berry, co-founder of KNEAD Hospitality + Design in Washington, DC
“A collaboration of the federal government, the Department of Health and ServSafe should invest in a post-coronavirus safety and sanitation training program . It should focus on deeper cleaning standards, stricter personal hygiene practices, and the implementation of food safety measures. This new training requirement should be part of passing or failing your quarterly health inspection in the future. " —Robert Irvine, host of “Restaurant Impossible” on Food Network
Empty dining rooms
“I think we've seen the end of full dining rooms for quite some time. I can't tell how long people they will fear close contact But as long as that fear exists, I don't see that small family businesses can thrive, which is a sad and scary prospect. However, the big delivery platforms are going to excel in this new normal. While people may be afraid to go out to eat, it will always be necessary to eat. All that said, I know this industry will survive and come out the other side stronger than ever. " —Anna Bran-Leis, owner of Taqueria Del Barrio , Two Moms y DC Empanadas in Washington, DC
“We are getting creative and working harder than we have to keep afloat until we are allowed to reopen. And when that day comes it won't be a full house from the jump . We will still have to do the takeout service and balance the dining room, whatever it takes with the new health code rules that will be implemented to keep everyone safe. " —Marcie Turney, chef and co-owner of Safran Turney Hospitality in philadelphia
More no-tip policies
"If tips were removed from all restaurants, then not only would all restaurant employees earn stable wages, but we could also match pay between the back of the house and the front of the house. If every restaurant include the service in their prices, would reschedule guests to reset their prices . Obviously, when the guests are allowed to return, the restaurant it will not be crowded. The reception staff will not earn the same level of tips, so by eliminating tips and paying an hourly wage, the employee salary levels would be more stable and would not depend on how busy the restaurant is. " —Ann Hsing, COO of Dialogue y Pasjoli in Los Angeles.
“Wouldn't this be a good time to universally eliminate tips? The Tip culture is a broken, archaic, and macho system that can promote misbehavior and rewards only some of the people responsible for the dining experience. Or change the laws on how tips can be divided among restaurant workers to make it fair to everyone. " —Mary Sue Milliken, chef Socalo , Border grill in Los Angeles.
Greater demand for transparency and equity.
“The severity of this crisis has prompted a major critical re-examination of our practices and values across the industry. Healing and improving our industry in the future depends on our collective ability to heed the lessons shown to us during this time of survival and adaptation. It has encouraged me and I hope to see a further reduction in greed and exploitation, a return to cultivating experience and feeling about trends and aesthetics, and a greater emphasis on horizontality and transparency of the organization ". —Brady Williams, Executive Chef, Canlis in Seattle
“I waver between being paralyzed / terrified by the uncertainty facing our industry and being excited about opportunities for improvement - we are a creative bunch and I know many of us will find new and exciting ways to feed our communities. I'm excited to see what restaurant innovations emerge from this disaster. Right now, the weaknesses of our food system - poorly paid workforce, little to no paid time off / sick pay, lack of health benefits, incredibly tight margins, etc. - are being exposed to a concerned public. I see this as an opportunity to fight for the rights of food system workers and educate the public about the social dangers of artificially cheap food.. I look forward to farm / restaurant / grocery worker benefit packages, including PTO and healthcare packages, that are on par with other professions and a public that understands and is willing to pay for it. —Mary Sue Milliken
“Damn, we have to create an atmosphere where our staff feel like family and our clients feel like they are at home cozy and relaxed next to their home; prepare nutritious, creative and delicious food; compel our suppliers to begin solving climate change with new and innovative sustainable solutions; be political fighters in the human rights movement ; and we have to make money. Sounds like a breeze. —Ron Goodman, chef and partner at Ivy city smokehouse in Washington, DC
“I hope that the pay rates will go up and we as restaurant owners can increase our retail prices to compensate for that. I'm afraid that salaries will drop, and we will have to be very aggressive about prices to attract customers again and generate a frequency of visits. I expect unrealistic expectations of hours worked per day or per week to be adjusted. . I'm afraid we'll be so tight on margins that we have to make workers try harder to make ends meet. " —Erik Niel, chef Easy Bistro & Bar y Main Street Meats Chattanooga, Tennessee
New appreciation for restaurants.
“Honestly, it's hard to see what good will come at the moment, but I think one positive thing we'll see is that diners will have a greater appreciation for the hospitality industry and what it takes to prepare and serve food. While we are at home, we see many home cooks tackling new and challenging recipes, like baking bread. Now that you are experiencing first hand that it is a two to three day process to make good bread, I think you will have an even deeper respect for the profession . Much of what goes on behind the scenes of a restaurant has been forgotten or taken for granted, and I think with more people cooking at home now and doing work, it will be a good reminder. " —Michael Schulson, chef and restaurateur of the Schulson Collective in Philadelphia.
“I think the whole country is realizing, perhaps for the first time, how important hospitality is. I look forward to seeing this recognition continue to come alive. I hope to see a change in the way we consider all hospitality professionals , that we see them as the true blood and contributors that they are, not only for the economy, but also for the human spirit ". —Steven Devereaux Greene, chef Herons in Cary, North Carolina
“We talk a lot about the true cost of dinner. I think it is a difficult conversation with the guests, because they are used to dining as it is. But I think people are recognizing what restaurants mean to them. What I really hope to see come out of this is an understanding of the entertainment that a restaurant offers. Eating in a restaurant is your entertainment for the evening in the same way as a movie, a concert or the theater. So I hope to see people apply the costs associated with entertainment to restaurants. If you buy a concert ticket and decide not to go to the concert, you still bought it. I think people don't understand the parallels between that and making a restaurant reservation and no-show, or calling and canceling at the last minute, not allowing the restaurant time to resell that seat. You can get food anywhere, but if you want an experience that is your entertainment during the night, you essentially need to rent the table and rent the experience that you are looking for. —Jon Nodler, chef and co-owner of Cadence in philadelphia
"Because people started cooking at home, increase su I appreciate good food and the work that supports it . This will put pressure on restaurants to improve their game to match their prices, the quality of food, and the overall experience they offer. I think people will not be as willing to eat out as they were before the pandemic, unless the overall restaurant experience really pays off. " —Badr Fayez, chef and owner of Bowlila in Los Angeles.
More protections for workers
“Predicting what the industry will look like after this is all over is a difficult feat. But it reminds me of when I started culinary school. It was 2008 and the recession was in full swing. It was very difficult to think about job hunting and what a career in the kitchen would look like. The jobs around us began to close. The salary was reduced to non-habitable wages and many people were displaced. I believe that the greatness of our industry will now be eliminated as it was in '08. And frankly, the cakes are going to get into a corner once again, as it was during the recession. However, my hope is that through this great event we can now see our mistakes from '08, where we went wrong and how we failed our cooks, our managers and our industry family. In 2008 we should have established safe deposit boxes to protect staff and give a living and dignified wage to our workers, the true backbone of our industry. Today,I hope we learn from our mistakes and make sure to provide and care for the people who really make our dreams possible . Reconstruction will be difficult, but not impossible. But this time let's do it the right way. " —Paola Vélez, executive pastry chef at Kith / Kin in Washington, DC
“The lesson we are learning right now, as business owners and as a society in general, is that we must protect our workers. It is evident that the need for safety nets for restaurants has never been more important , and right now that means joining. Restaurant owners must protect their staff and join forces to create an organized union or group that takes into account their best interest and that of their workers. A group with a unified voice would help mitigate the effects of recent strategic difficult, for future stops ". —Erik Bruner-Yang, chef and owner of Maketto , Toki Underground , ABC Pony , Brothers & Sisters e Spoken English in Washington, DC.
“I believe that employers will make greater efforts to care for their employees, in terms of pay and benefits, but also in healthy and supportive work environments. Y I think we will actively seek resources and legislation to support these efforts. ". —Christine Cikowski, chef and co-founder of Honey butter fried chicken In Chicago
“Such a large number of people, as we have seen through the pandemic, have been left out of the conversation without recourse, support or much attention. A lot of people, immigrants, mostly undocumented, who show up and do all the heavy lifting making these places a reality for chefs and diners alike. We live in a country whose culture has become "out of sight, out of mind," while forgetting that we live in a country that was forged and built by immigrants who, without them, most of what we have now I would not exist. From buildings and railways, to farmland and food. I hope that people will see this vulnerable and marginalized faction of the industry, which would not exist without it, and press for better legislation, immigration policy, equal pay and humane working conditions.across the entire landscape from now on and moving toward a better future for the hospitality industry. " —Cristian Irabien, Executive Chef, Many Thanks in Washington, DC
“Efficiency will be the keyword in the industry when we start to get out of this and it will continue to be the keyword for an extended period of time. Restaurant staff have been decimated by this pandemic, and for restaurants that remained open for carry-out and delivery, they have worked with a small fraction of the staff they normally work with. The longer you continue, the more experience these restaurants will have to to be more efficient in the preparation, execution, packaging to take away, etc. , to the point that when we are ready to reopen for dinner, there will be fewer staff members at both the rear and the front of the house than before the pandemic —Danny Lee, chef and co-owner of Anju , Chiko y Mandu in Washington DC
More virtual experiences.
“However, I think it's pretty clear that it will take a long time for our business to return to 'normal' once we can safely reopen. There's likely a new normal where we need to be creative in finding opportunities outside of our four walls for guests to experience our restaurants and bars. There's a lot of potential untapped virtually—I think there is and should be space for both virtual experiences and in-person hospitality that has become one of our hallmarks. We've already turned to takeout and curbside pickup, and are working on demos and virtual cooking classes, but how can we push these ideas further? Can we create a virtual restaurant concept that can be a business associated with our traditional concepts? At this point, nothing can be out of the question. As an industry, a fundamental principle for restaurateurs is caring for other people. If we can't do that in person, we have to find another way. " —Barbara Lynch, chef and restaurateur of the Barbara Lynch Collective in Boston.
“Inadequate government support and the widespread nature of this crisis will be absolutely devastating to the local restaurant and retail industry across the country. The assistance offered so far has been inadequate and, without drastic action, we will see the closure of thousands of beloved small businesses (and distressed chains) across the country. Many will never reopen, and others, burdened by the weight of deferred rent and declining sales, will open once again, only to close a few months later, unable to meet their increased monthly payments. Tragically, albeit somewhat predictably, a continued lack of access to capital and resources will result in immigrant and minority businesses see disproportionately affected and close at higher rates than other businesses. " —Sahil Rahman
Continuously increasing take-away and online orders
“The restaurants that come out of this will be the ones that get really good at take-away business. I think you have a real chance of driving people away from delivery platforms as you will see restaurants start to realize that they want control your income a little bit more . It's also about figuring out how to get people to collect instead of having to deliver. How do you get cool with having a little take out store? How do you master curbside delivery? Because the business is there. People want food to go. " —RJ Melman, President of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises In Chicago
“It will definitely be slow going back. Many of us who have not volunteered to draw or even explore it before have learned that is a great source of income ". Christopher Gross, chef The Wrigley Mansion in phoenix
“As people become more and more accustomed to the convenience of having their meals delivered to their doorsteps, they will be less inclined to leave their homes for food once the storm passes. To the chagrin of many restaurant owners frustrated by the high third party rates , this trend is here to stay, and in the future it will force many restaurant operators to adapt to this new reality. The real question is how to make the model work. Local restaurants are paying up to 30% in fees to delivery platforms, drivers are underpaid and underrepresented, and those companies continue to lose millions annually. Restaurants are outraged, and the system is broken and unsustainable right now. The question is what's next, and who and how will we solve this problem.Search for many new companies and technology solutions that emerge to answer this question in the coming months and years. " —Sahil Rahman
The rise of ghost restaurants
“Ghost kitchens will become more popular due to low installation fees versus the risk associated with them. They also incorporate delivery service into their model from the outset, so they must choose the right packaging to allow their food to be delivered in the best possible quality. Ghost kitchens with a shared dining room are a much more suitable business model to allow people to come visit us and eat fresh food. " —Badr Fayez, chef and owner of Bowlila in Los Angeles.
“Given the increase in delivery, as businesses adapt to survive, we will see many restaurants start operating 'ghost restaurants' for delivery only, in addition to their normal operations. While still in its infancy, this model has the potential to be a modern take on family-owned retail brand partnerships, such as the KFC + Taco Bell hybrid stores, where they serve full menus from two different brands in one retail store footprint, helping to increase sales and reduce rental costs for both companies. These ghost restaurants will allow brands to have their traditional retail storefronts, and within the same space, allow them to produce and serve a totally separate digital store, brand and menu. While still in the early stages, theseGhost restaurants have the potential to help restaurants generate additional revenue from their existing spaces ". —Sahil Rahman
More mental health services.
“The unexpected impact of COVID-19 related hardships will have lasting effects on mental health care and anxieties, not just in our industry, but across industries. It will be vital to focus our attention more than ever on the well-being of our hospitality professionals and to create a continuation of this “check with you / control your identity". We will have to be vigilant to continue taking care of each other after work comes back. " —Steven Devereaux Greene, chef Herons in Cary, North Carolina
Diversification of offers
“We believe that most venues will have limited capacity. We will continue our items to carry and market. We think most people will want to sit still at home and will only go out occasionally at first, so to honor that, there will be options ". —Antonia Lofaso, Chef / Owner Scopa Italian Roots, Black Market Liquor Bar, Lady, Antonia Lofaso Catering in Los Angeles
“The COVID-19 pandemic has given an eerie insight into how nimble most restaurants are not. Probably, the industry will see a growth of concepts that are agile, which means they can serve guests in a multifaceted way, such as dining, take-out and / or delivery, and retail. ” -Stephen Kaplan, Co-Owner and COO of Rumi's Kitchen in Atlanta
Changes in real estate strategy
"With human behavior and work culture changing so rapidly, there is an open question about which locations will be most desirable for brands to move forward . Downtown locations have traditionally been restaurant hot spots, with large numbers of office workers looking for a quick lunch or a happy hour spot. With more people working from home, there is an open question about whether people will return to the workplace, and the answer to that question will change the calculus around which places restaurants choose to open to move forward. " —Sahil Rahman
“When we reopen as a restaurant, we will have simplified menus, now disposable, and we will change the seating arrangement and capacity. A large part of our menu at Capo's will be small plates, intended to create a more accessible, affordable and faster experience ". - Tony Gemignani, chef and owner of Tony's Pizza Napoletana y Capo's in San Francisco.
More kitchens without waste
“I don't think people will stop eating meat because of COVID-19, but we will definitely see fewer menu items with more innovative approaches to a“ zero waste ”philosophy. Dishes will be divided into individual servings, as sharing plates may not be an option for some time. The innovative THALI (Indian-style food consisting of a selection of several dishes served from one platter) may gain popularity in upscale Indian restaurants to reduce interactions with a server. " - Sujan Sarkar, Executive Chef of ROOH San Francisco y ROOH Palo Alto
More local sourcing
"I have hope. I think super sanitized robotic food service will not be our only option. People yearn for connection, and they will want it more than ever after the pandemic ends. I see a strong push toward more local agriculture, self-sufficient food systems, and friends gathering around tables for comfort food. Yes, in the very short term, we will have to be physically distant, but when we have a treatment or a vaccine, or herd immunity, or at least a real measure of the risks associated with COVID-19, we will want more than ever, the privacy that only food and food can provide ”. —Josh Kulp, chef and co-founder of Honey butter fried chicken In Chicago
More technological solutions
" Orders based on QR codes (you can scan the QR code on your phone to access menu items and guidelines) can replace traditional menu cards, reducing interaction time with servers. " - Sujan sarkar
"We are looking at technology and all viable ways to limit tactile exposure and maintain proper social distancing before, during and after service." —Max Goldberg, co-owner of Strategic Hospitality (The Catbird Seat, Pinewood, Bastion, Henrietta Red, Patterson House, Downtown Sporting Club, Merchants, The Band Box, The Party Line) in Nashville
"As a co-owner of a bagel shop, I count on people's continued love of carbohydrates after COVID." Andrew Dana, co-founder of Call your mother in Washington, DC
More foods you can't make at home
“As we learn more and look forward to getting closer to being able to reopen, we are thinking of taking seasonal approaches to our food and beverage concepts that will really give people at all levels something they can't get at home. Things like sushi and our lamb lollipops are dishes that people will crave. We anticipate our chef-led cocktails to sell more wines by the glass and other spirits as well. Anything you cannot do at home, we will be ready to provide. " —Grant Gedemer, Corporate Director of Food and Beverages for Oxford Hotels and Resorts In Chicago