Restaurants across the world are closed until further notice. This has left endless entrepreneurs, foodpreneurs and restauranteurs considering their next steps with caution and considered guidance. Three expert speakers came together to present a webinar to discuss many vital topics relating to reshaping the foodservice industry during and post-pandemic

Christian Salloum the authority on food and beverage from
BrandPortunity, Kirsten Westholter who specialises in process, and Khaled Reda, an expert in people in the industry all took part in an exciting webinar that discussed the challenges of opening restaurants again post-pandemic. The webinar started with Christian’s icebreaker “for the best of tomorrow’s business, you need to think and react differently aiming to create great opportunities”.

“Recently, I was honoured to speak at the live webinar ‘Dining Out Post COVID-19’ and discuss how entrepreneurs, foodpreneurs, restauranteurs and hospitality professionals discussed many vital topics relating to reshaping the foodservice industry during and post-pandemic. I was able to highlight the importance of the BrandPortunity FOOD strategy in the course of the discussion”.

Accept and absorb the pandemic and start to plan. Strength, motivation and possessing an empowered attitude is essential for driving positive energy into the ‘new’ future. 

Observe: During the observation phase, restauranteurs should start questioning themselves about changes necessary in the future. It is imperative to find answers to the what, how, why and who questions, and most importantly, how to manage cash flow without jeopardising on the quality of products they serve. 

Operate: When business returns, adaptation is required so that companies can find their ‘new’ normal and develop guidelines for cashless payments, digital or sanitary menus and QR codes thus creating trust with customers by offering a safe environment. 

Develop: Businesses will need to continue to develop and evolve and offer thoughtful designs that empathetically reflect the changes that COVID-19 has dictated. Business expansion opportunities will need to be reviewed to ensure healthy business development, market share and profit growth. 

“We discussed the many elements of the COVID-19 pandemic and how restaurants will need to start opening as part of our ‘new normal’. Not only were guidelines examined at length, we also talked through other topics relating to processes, people and supply chains”.

The food and beverage sector has always been very vibrant and entertaining; the responses and changes to the pandemic crisis have happened incredibly fast. Customer engagement and reaction has played an enormous part in this; they are excited to try new products and are curious about new experiences and trying new tastes and flavours. 

Christian led the dialogue on the restaurants of the future. His findings for debate included the following points which relate to the restauranteur and customer journeys:

  • Hands-free everything; this is already in place with the use of technology and digital menus
  • Frictionless ordering and payment. There is a preference for digital payment and limiting cash payments
  • Flexible seating and portable barriers
  • In-restaurant handwashing stations; this will be mainly aimed at larger eateries 
  • Menu simplification with a limited number of menu items
  • Cross-functional staff  who each have the new mindset of ‘everyone can do everything’
  • Reduce of cost of storage by using storage space in flagship shops rather than using third-party storage facilities 
  • Change in dining times with lunch starting at 11.00 instead of 12.00 noon and offer earlier dinner timings 
  • Increase drive-thru business model
  • Offer customers value for money rather than discounts 
  • Technology and innovation will part a major contributor in reshaping the food and beverage industry in the new digital era

Westholter discussed the
supply chain and highlighted “the closure of borders and outbreak of COVID-19 led to many food processing and agriculture enterprises suffering irreparable damage. The supply chain is now very vulnerable, and the food and beverage industry must take control over the end-to-end supply.  Track and trace powered by blockchain solutions can ensure quick reactions in case of potential issues, and provide the traceability of ingredients which will become more and more important in the quest for rebuilding customer trust”.

Salloum explained about reading financials “Operators will need to adjust their thinking when reading their P&L, particularly on food costings. There will be volatility in demand, which will lead to the price fluctuation of raw materials. This volatility is likely to be a short to medium-term problem until businesses are up and running again. The rental landscape is changing while landlords support their tenants with rent reductions. Physical distancing and limited seating capacity will affect the restaurant staffing headcount”. 

Reda summarised by saying “Your people are the most important competitive advantage, everything else is easy to replicate.”

“Businesses are re-opening, albeit with caution. The resilient food sector will bounce back again, with yet another identity. There will be an exciting new wave of entrepreneurs and investors with appetites to hungrily evolve the food sector again. This is the start of the ‘new future’ for the next generation”. Salloum concluded.