A collection of elegant reveries
intended to inspire innovation.

Last Call: Covid19’s Effect on the Restaurant Industry

A recipe for disaster…or innovation?

Since its peremptory command of life as we know, the now historic pandemic has left no industry unscathed, forcing companies to navigate an unfamiliar landscape pervaded by insecurity, doubt and fear. Now, nearly two months since global governments first began to enforce regulated social distance guidelines, we find ourselves on the horizon of a slight reprieve from the abyss of uncertainty.

Left to dalliance with vague considerations of what’s to come, the approaching challenge is how to facilitate the reintroduction of the restaurant industry. Rooted in human interaction, having to abide by the forthcoming restrictions reduces restaurants to just shy of inoperable.

The dining experience wasn’t designed to operate off of a model stripped of in-person connection. Owners must interact with their customers; waiters and waitresses must take orders; and the back of house staff must interact with each other to not only prepare the food but to deliver it. Aside from operational adjustments, limiting capacity to 50% is nearly a death sentence for establishments that rely on their employees to function. And even when running on skeleton crew, how will returning employees be determined…especially when the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program may be supplementing income in excess of what some would have earned regularly.

And then there comes the issue with patrons—will customers be required to wear a mask throughout their dining experience, only to remove it when eating or drinking? In line with processes that require each patron’s temperature be taken prior to entry, how will establishments go about facilitating refusal while also maintaining customer loyalty. Despite being inundated with opinions about what restaurateurs ‘should do’, the reality remains that its irresponsible to believe the industry can sustain a level of profitability under the current business model.

Few restaurants will be able to recover, let alone be saved. Between a full quarter shut down, inoperable guidelines and a heavily flawed relief program that wasn’t designed to recoup owners from such a collapse, we’re on the precipice of a new norm. Dining out could very well become a luxury experience mimicking a more traditional sentiment…similar to that of my own childhood when going to a restaurant was considered a rare indulgence.

However, in the wake of such a catastrophic halt, there too, exists opportunity. Restaurateurs now have the chance to pioneer the industry with innovative solutions, challenging traditional business models that to some were already stale. As an industry that caters to a social environment, there isn’t room for social distancing.

For that very reason, I invite you to explore some of my offerings that could very well align with your own trajectory. Throughout my tenure in the design space, I’ve continued to operate outside of traditional norms…cultivating creation that speaks to restaurant owners as much as it does their patrons. There’s no denying that this industry isn’t for the faint of heart as what we build is fueled by passion, inspiration and an intrinsic appetite for the exquisite. That being said, don’t be a casualty of this crisis…because one thing I’m sure of is that when adversity meets innovation…the result is nothing shy of extraordinary.

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Elvis Restaino

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