As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to change the world as we know it, five restaurant experts share their own observations about the ever-changing hospitality landscape.
By: Sophia Seguin
People have changed their eating habits.
“A lot of consumers at home have now for months been getting used to cooking at home and preparing stuff at home so now the restaurants are stepping up.” —Tim Kilcoyne, World Central Kitchen
Food delivery has become the new normal.
“[This pandemic has] taken ten years of technology and [restaurants] have had to adapt it in five to six weeks. People who normally would not do carry out or take out or ordering food online have now become used to it.” — Alpana Singh, Check, Please!
Restaurants have been pushed to think outside the box more than ever before.
“We brought in some of the greatest musical artists from around the region and then from around the country [on livestream]. We would put bingo games in people’s boxes… and we would give away prizes on air. [In total] we would have a few thousand people playing every Friday night. Again, the more you can think about how you can deliver the same joy and surprise that you used to in a restaurant, [and now] do it in someone’s home.” —Brian Canlis, Canlis
Job roles have been altered.
“I have 115 employees. What does it look like to keep every single one of them employed?… We thought about the delivery experience as a whole experience. My captains and lead servers are now the people at your doorstep.” —Brian Canlis, Canlis
Everything is currently in trial and error phase.
“We keep throwing dirt on the wall and seeing what sticks.” —Brian Canlis, Canlis
Restaurants are being seen in a new light.
“For the first time ever, people are seeing the vulnerability in restaurants.” — Alpana Singh, Check, Please!
Chefs are being regarded—and being held responsible—beyond their culinary abilities.
“We are moving away from turning to chefs just as experts, but more as to who they are as true leaders… It’s way more than the actual act of dining at this point.” —Khushbu Shah, Food & Wine
There is greater emphasis being placed on the behind the scenes of operations.
“Everybody was aware of what was going on in front of the house, but the back of the house is being highlighted now in a way that we are able to champion from the littlest to the biggest. I don’t think that’s going to go away. I think it’s only going to amplify.” —Paola Velez, Maydan / Compass Rose
There is hope for a safer, more equitable future within the industry.
“We’re going to really be able to restructure the restaurant industry now that it is barren to become a place where it can be healthy. Where it can be a beautiful work environment. We can take care of each other and our mental health and etcetera… This is just phase 1.” —Paola Velez, Maydan / Compass Rose
The essence of hospitality remains unchanged.
“Despite everything that is happening, we still want to make people happy.” —Alpana Singh, Check, Please!