What has the return to “normal” for foodservice been like? Let’s start with good news: a widespread return to indoor dining is happening before our eyes. Nearly 80% of restaurants have fully reopened with dine-in service—and 66% are offering the same amount of seating they had before the pandemic. ¹While these aren’t full-strength numbers, they provide a breath of fresh air for a weary industry.
Many hurdles still exist, however—most notably the ongoing labor shortage. In August 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the food and beverage industry was 1 million jobs short of February 2020 numbers.²Many patrons are also still clinging to cautious habits and are apprehensive about making a full return to their favorite establishments.
This leads to a familiar question: What should restaurants do moving forward?
New strategies will likely emerge in the coming months that may vary depending on your state and county. However, the significant investments you have made over the past year shouldn’t be pushed to the side. Rather than starting from scratch, there are plenty of simple ways to evolve your current strategies to build momentum into a new year.
1. SMARTER SANITIZING
You’ve got the hand sanitizer stations covered, and there are plenty of cleaning procedures that likely take place at your restaurant daily. In order to maximize the valuable labor of your employees, it’s best to focus these efforts where they matter most.
Key cleaning area: self-service stations
Condiment stations, salad bars, water coolers and more—1 in 4 consumers are “very concerned” about using self-service stations, and 29% said the #1 way to make them feel safe is to see a designated employee visibly wiping down these areas.¹ Try using a time-stamped card stating when the area was last cleaned.
2. KEEP WINNING WITH COMFORT FOOD
Consumers are missing foods like pizza, BBQ and other indulgent meals they can’t easily make at home.¹ Since comfort food is here to stay, continue to bet on these dishes with new recipes that capitalize on the flavor profiles your customers crave, including Red Hot Waffle with Buffalo Shrimp. Trend reports show that pairing buffalo sauce with proteins other than chicken are up by 11.1%.³
3. DIGITAL MENUS FIRST, PRINT MENUS SECOND
Thanks to QR codes, print menus aren’t changing hands as often. While that’s certainly a win for sanitation, digital menus shouldn’t be your only option.
Keep a few print menus at your host stand for customers who request one or aren’t as comfortable with technology. These backup menus can also be used if your digital menu or QR code is malfunctioning.
4. LEAN ON LABOR SAVERS
Instead of making time-consuming baked goods from scratch, try Pillsbury™ freezer-to-oven solutions for consistent quality and ease. These back of house game changers are more than just delicious—they’re:
One Pillsbury™ product can open up a variety of menu options. Like freezer-to-oven biscuits, which can become:
Tons of flavor + minimal labor. Using Pillsbury™ products can help your operation unlock key benefits like:
Nearly all restaurants (95%) offer takeout¹, but not all foods are meant to hit the road. With products like hearty Pillsbury™ Biscuits, operators can build to-go meals that will stand up to the challenges of carry-out and satisfy patrons' expectations.
Discover more trends and labor-saving recipes by following @GeneralMillsCF on Instagram and catching our Chefs of the Mills on Instagram Live.
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¹FMA Consumer Planning Program Wave 1 August 2021
²Bureau of Labor Statistics, Food Services and Drinking Places: NAICS 722, August 2021
³Technomic Ignite Menu, Q1 2021
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