First was the online presence, then the telematic orders, finally it was the turn of e-commerce through the delivery of food at home ... In the last two decades the operation of the restaurant sector has changed completely to adapt to the consumption habits of a new generation, fruit of a deep digital processing.
But far from stopping, This constant transformation is expected to accelerate now that the coronavirus crisis has hit bars and restaurants around the world hard. What direction will these businesses take to overcome the vicissitudes that are imposed on them by the virus?
A radical change in the physical premises could be the answer. Recently we have seen how some large fast food companies have started to restructure your spaces. The car parks have been converted into carriles drive-thru, dining rooms give way to shelves to set order collection areas for the delivery. Tomorrow's restaurant won't look the same as the dining rooms we know today.
One of the most fundamental changes could be in the total disappearance of the halls. Business volume off-premise (outside the establishment) it only increases, and does it with a not inconsiderable rhythm, located around the 10% annual. Industry professionals predict that there will be niches, especially those dedicated to fast food, where restaurants that only offer home delivery and collection services could proliferate.
A restaurant totally dependent on the home delivery of food has several advantages. One of them is the smaller size of the facilities necessary to carry out the work. And that, in some cities, is a huge savings, since the costs incurred for the rental of commercial premises in strategic locations in large cities are usually, if not unaffordable, downright overwhelming from an economic point of view.
In fact, restaurants with only kitchens are already a reality. From the hand of the main competitors in the mobility sector, initiatives such as dark kitchens, virtual restaurants or shared kitchen spaces.
Dark kitchens or dark kitchen, they are small kitchens located in strategic locations and with low rental costs, such as industrial estates with good road connections, cleared in ring roads and other places from which home delivery of food can be carried out easily over a large area and in a short time. These premises They only have the necessary furniture to prepare the dishes offered through the mobile apps of the companies where they are promoted and a collection point so that the delivery men arrive, take the order, and leave at full speed in the direction of the client's home.
Virtual restaurants they are not very different. In this case, there does not even have to be a kitchen on the physical premises, just a virtual interface in order manager applications online and a place to pack food so that it can withstand the bustle of travel. These restaurants are totally dependent on the services of other establishments in the sector. Its mode of operation is as follows:
- In their menu they offer a selection of items from different businesses
- When the customer places his order, those in charge of the premises contact the collaborating restaurants so that they can deliver the pertinent items
- The virtual restaurant is responsible for combining the dishes received from each house and packaging it again for its final delivery
- The fleet that executes the home delivery of food takes the package to the address indicated by the user of the application
Finally, some restaurants, always with the intention of reducing operating expenses, they have been encouraged to share living rooms while the kitchens are kept separate. In Asia this type of spaces of coworking specialized have already started to appear, and its proliferation in the West seems only a matter of time.
To the pre-existing inventiveness in this field we must now add the new needs that diners have. The COVID-19 has brought with it a certain fear of visiting restaurant lounges. It is an irrational fear rooted in the depths of our being, motivated in a way by the horrors we witnessed months ago.
Although in restaurants hygiene and public health measures are extreme and the recommendations and regulations issued by the public administration are carefully observed, the reality is that the client has not yet fully recovered their trust and therefore prefers to push social distancing measures to the limit, largely dispensing with consuming outside the home.
This was already a trend that was present, but now, with the coronavirus crisis, is accused in a very visible way.
New restaurants are built with the future in mind, and the way in which customers are going to make their drinks modifies the chosen architecture. It's not the only thing that changes, the mode of operation also undergoes a profound reform, and is that many restaurants are beginning to be unhappy with the companies that deliver food and order management online since by having them they have to face expensive fees and say goodbye to information about their clientele.
With the arrival of SARS-CoV- 2 to every corner of the planet, some investment is being experienced in the trends imposed by companies such as Yelp, OpenTable, by Dash, UberEats, Just Eat O Deliveroo, for mentioning some of the many that operate in this sector. A) Yes, appear small own applications from which users can make their orders more economically, and some restaurant chains and franchises are beginning to boost their fleets of own delivery people.
It is still too early to know what exactly the post-COVID-19 outlook will be, but it seems clear that many of the restaurants that will emerge will not have the appearance of the more traditional businesses. A good number of them will not have dining rooms, and some may not even have kitchens. There is a glimpse of a move from the service sector to the world of the sale of food items, a trend that is also observed in other aspects of restaurants.