COVID-19

How will restaurants attract people dining out again?

Andy Uhler Mar 25, 2021
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
"I think a lot of restaurant brands, particularly full-service brands, have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reinvent themselves effectively," said R.J. Hottovy, a restaurant analyst at Aaron Allen & Associates. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

How will restaurants attract people dining out again?

Andy Uhler Mar 25, 2021
Heard on:
"I think a lot of restaurant brands, particularly full-service brands, have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reinvent themselves effectively," said R.J. Hottovy, a restaurant analyst at Aaron Allen & Associates. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Darden Restaurants announced its financial results for the third quarter on Thursday, noting a year-over-year sales decrease of 26.1%. Darden is the group that owns brands like the Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Cheddar’s, among many others, and those are some of the restaurants that have been able to survive the pandemic.

But looking ahead, as more places start to open up, how can various restaurants differentiate themselves and bring in that revenue?

Big chains like Olive Garden and Chili’s were able to rely on large balance sheets and access to cash, according to R.J. Hottovy, a restaurant analyst at Aaron Allen & Associates. Hottovy said some restaurants that have been getting by on takeout may see new possibilities.

“I think a lot of restaurant brands, particularly full-service brands, have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reinvent themselves effectively,” he said, especially around training staff to provide good service.

Kevin Burke, an investment banker at Citizens Capital Markets, said the big restaurants will likely be able to adjust to new expectations faster. So, for the time being, they can “stock up on masks and gloves and give them to people as they ask for them for free. Markings for where you should stand, and social distancing.”

There’s no telling how long restaurants will need to do those things to make people feel safe. Matt Schulz at LendingTree recently surveyed consumers about their willingness to go out to eat. “About a quarter of people said they’d only go out with people in their immediate household,” he said.

Schulz said 20% of respondents said they would only go if they could sit outdoors.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

Give me a snapshot of the labor market in the U.S.

U.S. job openings in February increased more than expected, according to the Labor Department. Also, the economy added over 900,000 jobs in March. For all of the good jobs news recently, there are still nearly 10 million people who are out of work, and more than 4 million of them have been unemployed for six months or longer. “So we still have a very long way to go until we get a full recovery,” said Elise Gould with the Economic Policy Institute. She said the industries that have the furthest to go are the ones you’d expect: “leisure and hospitality, accommodations, food services, restaurants” and the public sector, especially in education.

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

Read More

Collapse

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.