From the Editor: Labour, Labour, Labour

Photo by Nick Wong

The start of a new year leads to speculation about new trends but also signals an opportunity for analysts to predict major changes and innovations. And, with economists in Canada and throughout the world worried about a recession and spiralling inflation, it begs the question — how will it all affect foodservice operations?

Undoubtedly, apart from a looming recession, the foodservice industry is grappling with other serious concerns. The labour shortage being felt across all industry segments is seismic and fuels rampant speculation as to how will restaurants cope without the necessary staff.
It’s hard to plan ambitious growth if you can’t rely on a steady stream of staff to scale your business, which means many restaurants will be forced to look at AI in a more serious light. Will robotics take over restaurants? That’s a question long debated, especially where it concerns the execution of repetitive tasks. One thing is clear — while in the past, the maxim for a restaurant’s success was Location, Location, Location, today it’s Labour, Labour, Labour.

With that as an underlying and overarching concern for many operators, included in this editorial are a few predictions from the U.S-based ConverseNow.A1 company as to what the industry can expect — keep in mind the company promotes AI, however, its predictions for the year are worth considering. given our current economic climate.

  • ‘Understaffed’ restaurants will not see any relief in the coming year and must adapt to maintain productivity through alternative means to stay competitive
  • An uncertain economy will ease pains around the labour shortage by reducing the supply of open roles and increasing demand due to rising unemployment
  • While the labour pool may be larger, staffing will remain challenging
  • • Automation will remain the top priority for restaurants, driven by AI, and will continue to simplify both back-and front-of-house operations, affecting restaurant staff and guests
  • Voice AI and robotics will remain the highest-growing categories within restaurant automation
  • Many of the largest restaurant chains will expand their AI-driven offerings for in-store and off-premises dining, making AI more entrenched within the guest experience.

It’s expected that Voice AI will also see dramatic growth for both drive-thru and phone settings, becoming an essential service in restaurants in the same way POS systems became necessary replacements for cash registers.

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Rosanna Caira is the editor and publisher of Kostuch Media’s Foodservice and Hospitality, and Hotelier magazines. In her capacity as editor of Canada’s two leading hospitality publications, Rosanna directs the editorial and graphic content of both publications, and is responsible for the editorial vision of the magazines, its five websites as well as the varied tertiary products including e-newsletters, supplements and special projects. In addition to her editorial duties, Rosanna also serves as publisher of the company, directing the strategic development of the Sales and Marketing, Production and Circulation departments. Rosanna is the face of the magazines, representing the publications at industry functions and speaking engagements. She serves on various committees and Boards, including the Board of Directors of the Canadian Hospitality Foundation. She is a recipient of the Ontario Hostelry’s Gold Award in the media category. In 2006, Rosanna was voted one of the 32 most successful women of Italian heritage in Canada. Rosanna is a graduate of Toronto’s York University, where she obtained a BA degree in English literature.

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