As the nerve-centre of a restaurant operation, the kitchen is central to its success. But after a year in which the pandemic has wreaked havoc on restaurants around the world, eateries continue to undergo numerous daily changes that promise to shape a new reality for years to come.
First and foremost, the ongoing labour challenge is causing severe pressures for restaurants across North America, forcing many operators to curtail their hours of operation due to a lack of workers. Certainly, the industry is no stranger to labour pains but the “Great Resignation” spurred by the pandemic has been particularly devastating and unlike anything the restaurant world has ever experienced before, forcing many workers to question their career choices and to re-consider their options.
That means restaurant operators will have to get increasingly creative in their recruitment, training and retention efforts and also take advantage of new equipment and technology in order to streamline efficiencies (see Equipment stories beginning on p.30). One can expect labour-saving technology to continue to be front and centre in most restaurants, especially the use of robotics, which could help solve the riddle of labour shortages. After all, it’s impossible to operate a restaurant when you can’t find the necessary workers to staff it.
Not surprisingly, after a year of roller-coaster lockdowns and government restrictions, operators are being forced to re-examine every aspect of their business models. Recently, in the U.S. for example, according to the Reuters news agency, McDonald’s Restaurants alerted its franchisees to closing indoor seating in places where the Delta variant is rising, while other chains such as Taco Bell have chosen to expand its drive-thru lanes. Here in Canada, while the issue isn’t as severe as in the U.S., several foodservice operations in Quebec and Ontario have also been forced to reduce their hours and no longer offer certain dayparts.
It’s too soon to tell whether this is a temporary development fuelled by the pandemic, or part of a new world reality in which operators will be forced to move away from indoor dining — or reduce their footprints — to instead offer increased takeout and delivery options, digitized ordering and sadly, perhaps even limited human interaction.
Editor’s Note: Over the past year, with a global pandemic as the backdrop, Kostuch Media Ltd., and The Easton’s Group of Hotels, along with a special advisory committee, have been working on developing an Anti-Racism Framework for the foodservice and hospitality industry. We’re proud to finally introduce this important initiative, which we hope will foster a more equitable and just workplace