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The Restaurant Industry In a Pandemic

Portrait of attractive Caucasian waitress wearing protective mask to prevent from Covid-19

After five months of actively protecting herself from COVID by staying home, limiting contact with others, wearing a mask and social distancing, Katherine heard on the news that restaurants were given the “OK” to open up their dining rooms as long as they follow strict sanitation and social distancing rules. Katherine was cautiously excited by this news as she could no longer stand the isolating affects this pandemic has had on her. Desperate for some human connection, she calls her best friend, Maria and asked her to meet her at their regular Mexican restaurant hangout.  Katherine arrives in the empty parking lot on a Friday evening noting how eerily empty it was. She meets up with Maria in the parking lot. As they both exited their vehicles, they positioned masks on their faces and eagerly walked toward each other wanting to give their normal bestie hug but had awkwardly hold back, because…you know…COVID.

They enter the restaurant together not knowing what their experience would be after all that has been going on.  As Katherine approached the familiar colorful front door to the restaurant, images of ridiculously large hand sanitizer bottles and masked people standing at the entrance ensuring everyone is social distancing and complying with the mask ordinance were in her head. They opened the large colorful doors to the usual loud ranchero music and a sweet, friendly masked host at the front desk. They were comforted that everything was normal  except for the masks.  As they took their seats at a beautifully cleaned table, they were super happy to be out and having happy hour again. As they sat down, the hostess informed them that at the table, they could remove their masks. Hurray!! Katherine thought as she immediately ripped that sucker off! Maria did the same right after. They eagerly started to catch up on all of the “tea” since they last seen each other.

After the waiter took their order, Maria put on her mask and dashed to the bathroom. Katherine quickly checks her phone for new notifications. She takes a moment to look around and realizes how incredibly empty the restaurant was. On a Friday night? How could this be? Wow! She thought. Not even 10 minutes go by and their food arrives piping hot at the table. Wow, amazing service! This is great but only because there are no customers.  Where are all of the customers??

Katherine realizes that this is what the COVID pandemic has done to the restaurant industry. A sudden sadness overcomes her as she mentions this to Maria when she returns from the bathroom. They are taken aback at how “abandoned” everything seemed at that time.

If you have dared to venture out to dine-in at a restaurant recently, we are sure you have noticed the same things Katherine and Maria did.

COVID has completely paralyzed the restaurant and food service industries. Some establishments which had a drive-thru component allowed them to use the mandated ”minimum contact” methods so sales are able to continue.  Restaurants needed to quickly adapt as much as possible in order to stay afloat.

Not all locations or restaurant business models had the ability to sustain with the new regulations. As restaurant businesses suffered, it naturally created a domino affect and began to affected restaurant suppliers as well.

Negative Affects 
When restaurants were ordered to close their dining rooms, many restaurant employees lost their jobs or hours were cut significantly. Restaurant owners scrambled to adapt their practices to comply with new local ordinances.  Buffet-style and in-person experience-oriented restaurants whose main business model was based on unique, dine-in experiences were forced to shut down.  Smart business owners shifted their businesses to adapt and offer take-out and added delivery services.  Though sales slowly continued, it wasn’t enough to keep a full staff.

The COVID pandemic directly affects many different industries. With so many U.S. citizens losing employment and ordered to self-quarantine, many opted to cook at home and save money.

According to Yelp, 60% of restaurants listed on Yelp have closed permanently


Can We Bounce Back?
As the pandemic continues, cities are cautiously and slowly allowing businesses to re-open and somewhat restore their original ways. Anyone out in the community is ordered to wear a mask and social distance.  Restaurants are now allowed to open their doors for dine-in but strictly obligated to follow these rules.  Some cities such as Longmont, CO added parking blocks on their Main Street to allow restaurants to add tables in a “social distancing” manner to create a patio feel in the remaining summer weather.  Restaurant business owners across the nation are adapting and doing everything they can to keep their doors open.

As restaurants are adapting, custom blending suppliers must also adapt. Custom spice blending and other restaurant suppliers are seeing a dip in orders and sales. As the industry begins to gain steam again, we at All American Seasonings are ready to support your efforts and provide the best, quality ingredients. Stay healthy!

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