There is virtually no restaurant whose operations were not adversely affected by the novel coronavirus. With inter-personal contact being strongly discouraged and public meeting spaces shut down, most eateries, especially the traditional fine-dining kind, were forced to change their modus operandi.
To limit the chances of spreading the virus, those that did not want to shut up shop ultimately had to serve customers via takeout, delivery, or drive-thru. If you’re a restaurant owner, you need to think of how you can remain profitable while adhering to the COVID-related restrictions. Here are some of the ways you can achieve this:
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Optimize for Takeout and Delivery
These two options allow dinners to have the meals they desire without exposing themselves to the risk of contracting the dreaded virus. Besides regulations like limits on the number of consumers permitted in a restaurant imposed by some states, people opt for takeout and delivery for their safety. As a result, many restaurant owners have experienced sharp declines in footfall.
Adding delivery to your restaurant’s service options is also a way of retaining staff instead of rendering them redundant. You can have staff who previously worked as servers redeployed as drivers, for instance.
Your staff is not the only aspect of your operation; you will have to change to adapt to the new normal. You will need to tune your menu towards delivery and takeout. Meals that travel well will need to feature prominently. If paring down your menu is significant, you need to establish which items are more popular and discard those less.
It would help if you also traded staples that take hours to prepare for easy-to-prepare options that won’t keep your clients waiting for too long. Though the prices of QSR (quick-service restaurant)-style meals may not be as high as your everyday menu items, the fact that they can be prepared easily means you can push higher volumes.
You will also be able to cut your costs as fewer menu items will mean lower inventory. And since they are not as labor-intensive to prepare, you can lower your headcount as well to maintain your margins.
Add a Drive-Thru
Canlis is a prime example of one of the traditional sit-in restaurants that have rejigged their business model to cope with the new reality imposed by COVID-19. The Seattle-based outfit traded scenic, fine dining in ambient, mid-century settings for a bagel shop and a meal delivery service. They repurposed the sleeve of tarmac originally used to valet-park customers’ vehicles as the driveway for their new drive-thru service.
It was a radical shift for a restaurant that had built its 70-year reputation around indoor dining. But as early as January, when the world was still grappling with its first COVID cases, the proprietors of Canlis had already decided that it would no longer be business as usual. “Fine dining is not what people need right now,” the Canlis brothers said.
In metamorphosing into a quick-service restaurant, Canlis has to reimagine their menu. Beef that would have been served as steak on a plate was ground and rolled into burger patties. Their drive-thru menu consists of five items, including their Canlis Salad mainstay.
Simplify the Menu
Canlis’ simplified menu allows them to efficiently serve the twenty cars that park in their drive-thru driveway at any one time. Though none of the items on this menu go for more than $14, the high throughput ensures the restaurant can still meet its revenue targets. While restrictions are cautiously being lifted state by state, it will likely be long before full-capacity indoor dining is restored.
Instead of meeting your numbers by tweaking the prices, offer your customers meals that can be quickly and easily prepared, and don’t consume too many ingredients. While selecting meals for your simplified menu, it’s essential to ensure that the meals in your menu travel well. Test to confirm that your customers won’t end up with a soggy mess.
Lean into Tech
To ease your transition into the QSR world, you can lean on several handy innovations. A QSR POS is ideal for any QSR-type restaurant as it allows you to focus on your core business as the system handles all the nitty-gritty. You can collect sales data in real-time and identify areas where your service is inefficient and make the necessary adjustments. You can create menu adjustments on the POS software, and the changes will be reflected in all your outlets within no time.
Living With COVID
The pandemic will be with us for the foreseeable future, so you, as a restaurant owner, have to learn to live with it. Like Canlis, you can take the opportunity to shake up your business model to break into areas of untapped potential. This could be the chance you’ve been waiting to re-strategize and work towards setting up the future restaurant.