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6 Suppliers Share How 2020 Shaped the Future of Restaurants

Current industry struggles have changed how everyone views the future from operators to suppliers to manufacturers. The crystal ball isn’t entirely clear but here, suppliers and manufacturers offer insights into what may come in the equipment and supplies industry.

The future will always be what’s ahead. Some would argue it’s the present that’s now coming at us at an accelerated pace. Either way, we all have to be ready for it.

That's why we asked six suppliers:

How has your view of the restaurant of the future changed in the last six months?


Jessica Meade HeadshotJessica Meade DeMoreJessica Meade DeMore, VP Sales & Marketing, Atlas Metal Industries

The last six months have shown us what serious safety measures look like, and I believe many of these measures will be part of the restaurant of the future. Even after the pandemic, I envision certain precautions sticking around, such as food guards and partitions, increased social distancing and a focus on outdoor seating.

At Atlas, we’ve also noticed a shift away from self-serve counters and have been reminding our operator partners they can repurpose modular self-serve units for things like grab-andgo stations. As crazy as everything is right now, it’s no surprise to see how creative operators have gotten with their setups and menus. This truly is the most passionate and resilient industry, which is why Atlas is so proud to offer its support.


Michael Lawson NEWMichael LawsonMichael Lawson, Vertical Manager: B&I, eBay

As a category manager for the restaurant segment, I analyze product consumption trends and the underlying factors that influence purchasing activity. There has been a dramatic change in the economic framework of the restaurant industry this year due to the operational constraints induced by COVID-19.

The restaurant industry will be impacted by a shifting cost structure as participants maximize their economies of scale and the optimization of client servicing. One example of this is the acceleration of ghost kitchen utilization as restaurateurs enhance profit opportunities and leverage new technology such as online ordering to provide a frictionless experience for consumers. It’s critical that restaurants continue to support these emerging trends as we navigate through the pandemic and into the future.


Amy Headshot April2018 Best 0569 CroppedAmy Lewis, MBAAmy Lewis, Director of Marketing & Business Development, Kitchens To Go

Operators navigated uncharted territory in 2020 and exceeded consumer expectations while operating their businesses smartly and safely. Innovation dramatically shaped the future as processes emerged to improve efficiency. A focus on concepts, technology and staffing will continue as restaurants shift to smaller footprints to reduce overhead, increase productivity and decrease labor costs.

Right-sizing square footage is now a differentiator and will achieve efficiency in ways not possible otherwise. Advances in equipment technology; ventless, touchless, and multiuse options will require staff to be flexible. Adept cross-functional teams will ensure greater satisfaction, retention and reduction of losses.

Commissary-based food delivery models will continue, as will establishment of centralized facilities that support multiple functions from dry-goods storage to batch-prepping to save space, ensure consistency and quicker execution with minimal staffing.


Chef Ken HeadshotKen Megarr MSKen Megarr MS, CCC, Director of Culinary Appliance Applications, Midea Commercial Food Service

The last six months have seen quite an upheaval in the entire foodservice industry. The need to adapt and still provide safe, quality products to the public is paramount. We have had to “shift” to bring the critical control points within HACCP to unprecedented levels.

The “shift” has included migrating to a “low” or “no-touch” prep and delivery. Kitchens have had to increase their awareness of the possibility of cross-contamination. Equipment companies have had to adapt to these requirements as well. New items on the market include some ovens (like one produced by Midea) where the food product barcode is “scanned” and the oven operates automatically.

Restaurants of the future will retain the lessons learned from the pandemic and include many of today’s practices into future day-to-day operations to protect customers … and ourselves!


Koenig ErikErik KoenigErik Koenig, Vice President, Brand & Communications, Parts Town

As a result of the pandemic, the biggest change from my perspective is usage occasions. Yes, we will continue to dine out, but we are also realizing we can be social and enjoy food in new ways.

From carryout, delivery to meal kits, restaurants are adapting. They are creating new opportunities to interact with current patrons and are also developing new opportunities to meet customers in digital spaces.

An interesting trend I’ve been following is the use of “live events” to connect with people through cooking. Opportunities like this will become a staple of the restaurant of the future, meeting patrons in their desired spaces to drive preference and loyalty


RATIONAL BuckBilly BuckBilly Buck, National Corporate Chef, RATIONAL

Prior to the pandemic, restaurants were shifting to provide multiple high-quality experiences. The last six months have turbocharged this evolution. Restaurants with a singular or primary focus on the dining room, drive-thru or the delivery experience are a thing of the past. They will need to execute all of the above at a high level, plus catering, pickup, to-go, meal kits, pop-up and seasonal locations, and more.

A strong restaurant brand can cover it all but will need to ensure the same taste and consistency from line to line, location to location and across each experience. Multifunctional foodservice equipment that has the technology to ensure consistency will play a major role in the success of the restaurants of the future.

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