‘Food’ for Thought

The hospitality industry has been hit hard by the Coronavirus, but perhaps the worst of the problem is the unknown. When will restaurants be allowed to offer dining room service? What will the restrictions be? How will the public react?

I am going to throw a curveball to you today, and focus on the positive. Can you believe it? What journalist is being positive today? Isn’t everyone focusing on the worst-case scenario? I have been telling friends for weeks now, that the probability of the worst-case scenario is exactly the same as the best case. So, just maybe the majority of our restaurants will weather this story, and come storming back sooner than the pundits think.

It’s a certainty that seating will be reduced, perhaps by half. But that does not mean the sales will suffer correspondingly. Most restaurants, under any circumstances, would be delighted to be half full all day long.  There is also a good chance that takeout orders will remain strong, so combine the two, and just maybe the outlook will be a bit rosy.

Innovation has always been the hallmark of successful businesses, and we have seen that in a big way over the past weeks and months. Restaurants have adjusted their menus, gone big into comfort food, and figured out ways to safely get you to meal delivered to you curbside or via a delivery service. Restaurants have also switched to one-time use paper menus, that can be tossed, and amended quickly. Is it necessary to have a fancy, leather-bound menu sitting on the table? I think I had rather see a paper menu that tells me the chef is serving what he got fresh that day, not something that came out of the freezer.

There is a lot going on in the tech world that restaurants have not to take advantage of. It ranges from robotic cooks to tabletop computers that will explain what the daily specials are and tell you where the wine you are interested in coming from. But those are pretty expensive options. A simple and far less expensive innovation is to have QR codes on the tables so that customers can scan it with their smartphones and look at the menu with our physical menu at all. Good idea, right?

I don’t know about you, but I think most folks would agree, but I just can’t wait to head to my favorite restaurant and sit down for a lovely meal with friends. I am a huge fan of the Green House on Porter in Ocean Springs and love to sit around the big table, drink coffee and talk to my friends, and miss it greatly. I think the pent up demand is going to be huge, and restaurants, and coffee shops, will be back in the black sooner than the naysayers think. Don’t you?


Written by Julian Brunt

Julian Brunt is a food and travel writer that has been writing about the food culture of the Deep South for over a decade. He is the eleventh generation of his family to live in the South, grew up in Europe, traveled extensively for the first fifteen years after graduating from the University of Maryland, University College, Heidelberg, Germany. Today, he's a contributor for multiple publications, including Our Mississippi Home. He's also appeared on Gordon Ramsay's television show, "To Hell and Back in 24 Hours."


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