I had a recent conversation with a restauranteur from northern California who told me his locales were hemorrhaging money as a result of COVID capacity restrictions.
"A restaurant simply cannot survive at 30% capacity." He said. "Not to mention, it costs me 50K just to be up and running again after getting the green light to open."
For restaurant owners like this man who counted on capacity restrictions to loosen over the coming months after reopening—it was a tremendous blow to be told by the CDC that they would have to close again after only two weeks of limited operations, due to a spike in cases in California.
"We had high hopes that the restrictions would taper over time." He said. "So we put significant resources into hiring new staff, and training them, in preparation for reopening, only to find ourselves having to close two weeks later. It's as if the powers that be want small businesses to fail. The relief funds being do nothing to offset the losses incurred. And it's situations like this one, since it's health-related, that make it difficult to pinpoint malicious intent. The bottom line is that businesses are closing. And restaurants such as mine can't just shelve their goods. We work primarily in perishables."
What this means for restauranteurs is that they need to completely change the way in which they serve food to their customers.
"We have to adopt the same model that other service providers are adopting, and focus on individual, online orders." He said. "Our focus is on farm to table now. We must control the product from seed to harvest in order to make it through this pandemic, as we cannot count on a system that tells us one day we can open, only to tell us to shut down the next."
During this pandemic, On-Demand, Online food orders have skyrocketed with over 104 billion dollars of increased spending nationwide. It is the new standard for food providers.
"The days of receiving walk-in clients are coming to an end." He said. "Like all marketing campaigns—we must tailor our experience around convenience, freshness, and immediacy. That's why we are focusing most of our resources on building a sustainable farmstead."