The outbreak of COVID-19 has undeniably changed almost everything about our daily lives, and the business of our local restaurants is no different. During the lockdown, takeout took the place of dinner dates. Ipsos’ Foodservice Monitor (FSM) has been tracking the performance of and the behaviours related to the Canadian Foodservice industry since 2014. The Ipsos data reveals a $3B decline for Full Service Restaurants (FSRs) and Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs), combined, from March 2019 compared to March 2020. These numbers are shocking and show devastation in the restaurant industry. There are bright spots in the industry, with many restaurants and bakeries adapting and thriving…So, how have these local bistros, bakeries, and restaurants that are thriving adapted to the new normal?

We did some digging on how these businesses have adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic and how they will continue to change as the worldwide lockdown begins to ease.

Takeout Is the New Normal

 It isn’t just your local fast-food joint that is serving takeout nowadays, in fact, the most upmarket and high-end restaurants are turning to this method to keep loyal customers happy and their businesses moving forward. Even small restaurants are registering on online delivery apps to keep their clientele well fed! Bistros and bakeries across the country have been delivering all their usual goodies including freshly baked bread and hot drinks, which is a far cry from the pre-lockdown morning coffee run – many members of our team have been ordering their coffee ahead and just popping in for a masked up pickup as their morning coffee routine.

Ingredients Delivered

 Another addition to the influx of take outs has been the increase of restaurants offering customers the ingredients and instructions to create dishes from their menu at home. Thousands of businesses have taken to providing their customers with every ingredient and thorough instructions (sometimes through youtube videos) on how to create the perfect meal at home. We recently ordered a meal kit from one of our favorite restaurants that produced 3 dinners for 2 people for only $50. These delivered ingredients are great for consumers and in creating covers for restaurants.

Ordering From Your Phone In Person

 Throughout the pandemic, restaurants have turned to developing their in-person online ordering systems to support socially distanced service. Instead of a server jotting down your order on a small pad of paper to enter into a shared POS system, many restaurants are now providing mobile ordering from your table, and menus are viewed via a quick scan of a QR code on your own device. This way, you can have a contact minimal experience, while still dining out. A great evolution!

Farmer’s Markets

 Local restaurants have also been setting up stalls at local farmer’s markets to shift excess ingredients and supply the local community with their favorite meals. Many more businesses are now offering their customers base this option because it is easier to maintain social distance, and this is typically done outside.

To maintain business growth, many restaurants have even turned to transform their premises into pop-up temporary food stores as well. Where a restaurant may have used fresh produce in its menu, they are now operating as specialist food stores to provide loyal customers with everything they need – especially restaurants that have a more ethnic skewing cusine – many are working to provide access to harder to find ingredients.

Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on small businesses, especially in restaurant and hospitality. However, the ingenuity and hard work of these restaurants and their staff, has meant that thousands of businesses have stayed afloat even in some of the most unlikely circumstances. From organizing delivery, to investing in online ordering services, they have been providing comfort for millions of hungry homebound customers.