Seven Restaurant Trends That Will Continue in the Post-Pandemic World

The long-lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are something that every business needs to consider, regardless of the industry they serve. Let’s explore seven trends in the restaurant industry that will likely continue into the post-pandemic era.

1. Third-party delivery apps will continue to thrive

Anyone with a smartphone knows how convenient it is to order from apps like DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, or Postmates. These food delivery apps have become a standard part of everyday life. And based on their current performance, it’s a trend that will remain.

Some 53 percent of adults say that purchasing takeout or delivery is an essential part of the way they live, and 68 percent say they’re more likely to use a third-party delivery service now than they were before the pandemic. Restaurants have responded to this demand, and more businesses are subscribing to food delivery apps.

2. Restaurants will need to digitally transform their internal operations

Many industries are focusing their efforts on digital transformation to keep up with the latest and greatest technologies.

Whether it’s using artificial intelligence (AI) for inventory control or implementing new, contactless payment options, restaurants will need to adopt new technologies to serve their customers more efficiently and effectively.

Kitchen automation technology is becoming more prevalent in the industry, and more restaurants will want to automate repetitive, simple tasks to make their kitchens more efficient.

3. Staffing issues will continue to negatively impact restaurants

Accommodating a shrinking staff is something restaurants have had to deal with due to the pandemic. Some employees are reluctant to return to work in a restaurant, as it’s commonly known that COVID-19, including the delta variant, can spread more quickly in an indoor environment.

Restaurant staffing issues will likely continue to negatively impact restaurant operations. Restaurant owners will need to find innovative ways to recruit new employees and offer incentives to come in and work in the foodservice industry.

4. QR codes will replace hardcopy menus

A useful tool many restaurant owners implemented during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic were QR codes. It became more common for restaurants to offer QR codes rather than hand out individual, hard-copy menus to their diners.

Over the last 18 months, the use of QR codes has risen by 750 percent — it’s evident that this is more than just a fad. As the pandemic continues to impact the industry, it’ll only be a matter of time until QR codes replace traditional restaurant menus.

5. Consumers may choose cooking at home over dining out

During the pandemic, there was a steady increase in people purchasing fresh food from the grocery store and cooking meals at home. In a Deloitte study of 3,000 consumers, only seven percent said they’d cook less post-pandemic.

6. Restaurants will need to offer high-quality dining experiences to build a loyal customer base

More people are leaving their homes as a result of getting vaccinated and mask requirements being lifted. Restaurants will need to anticipate this increased demand for enjoyable dining experiences and develop innovative ways to appeal to existing and potential customers.

Rewarding loyalty is a surefire way for restaurants to improve customer engagement. 

7. The restaurant industry will need to provide complimentary sanitation and prioritize customer health and well-being

Many restaurants of all sizes had to double down on sanitation vigilance at the onset of the pandemic. State restrictions prevented restaurants from indoor seating at one point, and it was common to see self-serve hand sanitizer dispensers at the front door. It’s likely this is a trend that will remain.

Because diners are also taking their health more seriously, it will be important for restaurants to assure their customers that their health is a priority. Complimentary sanitizing measures will allow customers to feel more comfortable while dining indoors.

Working through uncertain times is necessary for restaurants if they want to remain profitable in the future.