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How Restaurants Are Surviving in the COVID-19 World


If you’re a restaurant and still operating, then congratulations!

Some sources estimate that more than 60% of restaurants closed down because of COVID and are out of business completely.

The other 40% are either barely surviving OR thriving, but I’m going to cover the strategies of the businesses making more money than ever before.

Let’s dive right in…

1. Diversify Your Income

Traditionally, a restaurant’s primary source of revenue is dine-in, but as we all know, COVID-19 cancelled this option around the globe.

Unfortunately, both the pandemic and government regulations come in waves. There are times that the government will ease up opening restrictions, and tighten them again.

The bottom line is that you can’t wait around for dine-in to return and save the day. We don’t know how long this new normal is going to last, so you must diversify your revenue to remain open and profitable.

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Top Vancouver Japanese restaurant, Miku, created meal kits during the lockdown | Photo Credits: Miku

The best and easiest options are: offering delivery, curbside pickup, meal prep kits, online courses, or hosting/catering small private events.

2. Transform Your Menu

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In today’s world, it’s more important than ever to make sure your menu offers customers what they want. In addition to that, we need to create menu items that are good for delivery.

Most customers are looking for something comforting to eat that brings them warmth, happiness, and nostalgia with all of the uncertainty and anxiety we’ve all come to know.

For example, if fries is one of your core menu items, you might want to start figuring out a better option. After 30 minutes traveling in a box, they’re likely to be soggy and not very enjoyable.

This deteriorates the quality of the food and reflects poorly on your business as a whole. Think about it, would you want to order from the soggy-fry place again?

You should also revise or limit your menu to only list items with high profit margins. While this should always the goal, it’s extra necessary now to compensate for higher delivery and cleaning costs.

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Photo Credits: Canlis

As an example, my good friend Mark Canlis, runs one of the top fine dining restaurants in Seattle. However, recently he transformed that fine dining restaurant into comfort delivery food and has actually been getting more business than ever before!

3. Leverage Technology

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I know it’s difficult and confusing to figure out how to use technology to help our restaurant business, which is why owners will turn a blind eye to it.

However, in today’s world, it has to be a priority.

The first and most important way to integrate technology into your business is digitalizing your menu. This provides lots of benefits to your customers:

  • They can browse at home
  • They will know any updates you’ve made to your offerings
  • They won’t need to touch any physical menus
  • If you have the infrastructure, they can even order from there!

Lots of restaurants have been placing QR codes on the table for customers to conveniently scan with their phones that link to their digital menu.

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QR codes that direct to menu on a picnic table | Photo Credits: sianinleigh

Another way technology can transform your business is by turning your website into an e-commerce shop!

Wait, so why would you want to do that?

The first point that we talked about for your restaurant to survive and thrive is to diversify. Many of my clients are are now productizing their most popular offerings like signature sauces, seasoning blends, or DIY meal kits.

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Bubble tea shop created home DIY kits to their drinks | Photo credits: Baroness

They can then sell these products online and make a ton of money with big profit margins and an extra revenue stream.

Without technology, this wouldn’t be possible! Adding e-commerce functionality to your website is really easy these days with lots of services, and is definitely a worthwhile investment in these uncertain times.

4. “Show & Tell” Safety

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The fourth strategy to help you navigate through this pandemic is to ensure safety is a priority, and that customers can tell.

Right now, health and safety are definitely your customers’ top concerns when they’re walking by a restaurant. It only takes a glance for them to decide whether they want to visit your restaurant or not.

If you don’t have the proper protocols, then unfortunately, you’re going to lose out on the remaining customers that might have come in if they’d seen all your safety measures in place.

An obvious example is plexiglass for the cashiers; plexiglass ensures that when you and your customers are communicating, there is a separation and is a great visual example that your business cares.

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Photo Credits: Cafe Medina

We can also make sure that when people come in, they sanitize and have their temperatures’ checked. When we bring them to their tables, each one is six feet apart at the very least.

Additionally, make sure that your staff always wears masks and gloves because it really gives the customer a sense of confidence that this place takes safety and hygiene seriously, and you will gain a lot of respect and reassurance.

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Photo Credits: Tap and Barrel

To give you an example, I had a business meeting with my friend downtown a few weeks ago.

When I went to the restaurant, I had a pleasant experience because I felt like they took their safety very, very seriously. All their staff were wearing masks and gloves, and on top of that, all the tables were super far apart.

Because of that, I booked my anniversary dinner at this restaurant and ended up spending even more money with them because they have gained my confidence and my trust.

As you probably know, the pandemic is such a popular topic to talk about with friends and family. So now more than ever, people are also talking about where to eat, where not to eat, which place had good delivery, or wasn’t following safety precautions.

This is why it matters!

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Even the biggest, most profitable corporations are making changes. Mainly, shifting towards delivery as a service.

Chipotle has committed more than 60% of their new restaurants to include a drive thru experience. Starbucks is reformatting and remodeling their existing restaurants to include drive-thru if they don’t already. These make it easier than ever for delivery drivers to meet demand.

If these big companies are investing millions of dollars in these best practices, we know that this trend is here to stay.

And that’s precisely why I wanted to share with you guys this information so then that you can adopt, survive, and thrive in the pandemic.

See more tips and strategies on how to market your restaurant or to start your food business on the right foot.

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