Being an industry that relies heavily upon human interaction, the hospitality sector has been among those to suffer most this year amid lockdowns and restrictions.
As health and safety protocols everywhere evolved to combat viral spread, and consumers adopted new behaviours and formed new expectations of the service industry, the “new normal” emerged. With mandated mask-wearing, social distancing and enhanced hygiene protocols, restaurants, bars, and other food and beverage outlets everywhere had to adapt quickly to survive.
The question now is how these trends, which have been forced upon us by pandemic conditions, will carry on into the new year and beyond. Dining and drinking establishments have had to reinvent the ways they serve their customers in order to remain relevant, diversifying the avenues through which their offerings can be delivered.
Corporate Director of Food and Beverage at South Carolina’s Charlestowne Hotels Anthony Langan offered some of his predictions about what the future holds for the food and beverage space as the pandemic era continues.
“Food and drink offerings will continue to move outside of the venue more than ever before, as we explore new opportunities in takeout, delivery, outside catering and retail,” Langan prophesied. “The diversification of revenue streams can provide venues with both an immediate financial benefit as well as long-term insulation against unknown external threats that could come in the future.”
Even as the pandemic swept the globe earlier this year and establishments were forced to close their doors to clientele, it was evident that consumer demand for ‘dining out’ had not been diminished by stay-at-home orders. Delivery, takeaway and pickup options swiftly became available from eateries that might have never before embraced this approach.
Zuma’s Chief Executive Chef Oliver Lang commented: “I personally think that within the current climate, takeout and delivery side of businesses will continue at an upwards trajectory; with more and more ‘ghost kitchens’ opening up to support restaurants or kitchens which cannot execute takeout from their own premises.”
Lang added: “For us at Zuma, it was the very first time that we have rolled out a takeout and delivery service. We focused on items that travel well and signature dishes that give people the comfort of eating Zuma food at home.
Merivale at Home – Australia
In Australia, Merivale is well known for a range of prestige restaurants located in their hotels including Mr. Wong, Totti’s, Fred’s, and Bert’s. During the lockdown period Merivale immediately launched ‘Merivale at Home’, a meal delivery service providing “almost ready” restaurant meals, that the customers finish off at home using simple cooking instructions that are easy for any level of cook. An online bottle shop allows you to order wines to match your meal choice.
The fact that Merivale at Home is still running, even though venues have been reopened since June, proves that if you know your customers well there is more than one way to make them happy and keep your business front of mind.
Sam Nazarian, CEO and founder of C3 by sbe, which capitalizes on fast-evolving consumer preferences like ghost kitchens (food-prep facilities that only provide dishes for delivery) and mobile delivery, believes the movement will continue to gain speed. “People will want a variety of great food, from burgers and salads to sushi and Michelin-star fare, wherever they want to consume it—at home, in restaurants, food halls, outdoors, at work and hotels,” he said. “Sixty percent of customers order take-out or delivery food once a week, a trend that will only continue. Restaurant and hotel kitchens, which are grossly underutilized, will become more efficient and productive. It’s an exciting place to be now.”
Other 2021 Trends
- Being ideal in terms of ventilation, al fresco dining in outdoor seating areas, are probably going to remain the preference of customers and cautious eatery owners wherever space and weather permits.
- In a post-COVID world, guests will note that buffet setups as they existed pre-COVID have become a thing of the past. As is already the case at hotels and resorts that have reopened guest dining areas, buffets will no longer be self-service, with guests instead invited to grab different dishes offered as single-portion items that are individually sealed for safety and freshness, and cooked-to-order items being served by staff.