The 2020 novel coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the lives of people all over the world, and restaurants and bars have been hit especially hard. The initial shutdown in March shuttered eateries all over the country for an indeterminate amount of time. While most people had hoped the shutdown would last no more than a few weeks, the rapidly spreading virus meant that opening the doors to customers was easier said than done. Restaurants and bars have been taking creative measures to stay afloat in mid-2020 amidst an uncertain future.
Restaurants are Offering Takeout and Delivery
When mandatory closures meant that dining in was no longer possible, restaurants responded by offering takeout and delivery services. Demand for these delivery services spiked. Restaurants that were notorious for their exclusivity quickly found themselves the hottest tickets in town. Many restaurants offered meal packages that allowed people to heat and prepare their meals at home.
Restaurants Started Offering Contactless Delivery
One of the main concerns of food handling and delivery was the virus’s potential to spread through person-to-person contact. Restaurants have started to offer delivery services that allow a staggered hand-off. The delivery person leaves the pizza on the porch, never having any contact with the customer. The customer pays electronically so that no money or receipts change hands.
Bars Have Started Delivery Services
Some bars have gotten creative during the pandemic. They’re also offering takeout and delivery services. States have relaxed restrictions on the sale of alcohol, allowing bars to sell alcohol to people who can pick them up. During a brief period of re-opening, some bars opened with restrictions. These included enforced social distancing, blocked off seating to create space between patrons, and mandatory masks.
Many restaurants and bars are small, mom and pop operations that run on thin margins. Many of these owners have considered mortgage refinancing to reduce the price they pay for their homes and free up additional cash to keep their businesses afloat. Mortgage refinancing, for many, is the lifeline that helps them to stay in business until the world opens back up, and the customers come flooding in again.
Other owners depend on stimulus checks and government grants to provide them with the funds they need to pay employees, meet mortgage and rent obligations, and pay suppliers. Still others are depending on emergency loans to keep their bills paid.
Raising Prices and Charging Fees
A few restaurants have decided to offset the devastating losses of income by charging more for their products. Quite a few have instituted a new “COVID fee” of an extra dollar or two per bill to make up for drastically reduced sales. Others have asked their customers to tip generously or voluntarily give a few extra dollars to help the restaurant deal with the overwhelming loss of income that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about.
Selling Gift Cards
Customers have been reaching out to help their favorite eateries by buying gift cards that create a cash infusion during the pandemic. These gift cards have been the lifeblood of many small restaurants that use the sales to cover ongoing expenses. Gift card purchases, however, are only a temporary fix. When the economy opens up again, restaurants will have to make good on this credit and be ready to provide meals for customers who want to redeem them.
Grocery and Meal Kits
Your favorite Italian cucina may be offering fresh pasta packed to go and ready to be heated up at home. Maybe you want homemade sausage, exotic cheeses, or crisp vegetables. When restaurants were forced to close, they had a full inventory of prepared food and ingredients, many of which were in danger of spoiling if not used. Restaurants decided to meet the demand for groceries by providing their ingredients to waiting customers. For many restaurants, providing dry ingredients and freshly packaged food is the only way they have been able to stay in business in the months since the lockdown began.
Restaurants and bars have suffered especially hard in the pandemic. They will continue to suffer as social distancing remains the “new normal.” By taking steps to refinance, raise prices, and change formats, small restaurants and bars have been able to keep their doors open, even if only partially.