E&S Extra

Editorial Director Joe Carbonara provides insights and commentary on the state of the foodservice equipment and supplies marketplace.


Restaurants and bars represent one of the first areas state and local leaders target when trying to curb the spread of COVID-19 in their jurisdictions. Consistently focusing on restaurants, though, can make it seem as if these businesses are, in fact, superspreaders. But is that a fair representation for restaurants? The National Restaurant Association emphatically says no.

The restaurant industry’s decline due to COVID-19 may have traveled a swift and direct path, but the road to recovery remains a long and winding one that will undoubtedly be riddled with potholes and other unwanted surprises.

One step forward, two steps back. As the COVID-19 cases continue to rise throughout the country, exactly how that impacts individual operations will vary greatly depending on how the state or local government chooses to respond. One thing that remains certain, though, is the prominent role digital ordering and off-premises dining will play for operators as the industry trains its eye on Washington, D.C., hoping for some form of relief.

When campus life came to an abrupt halt in March, college foodservice providers had to scramble to shut down their operations just as commercial restaurants did.

At the start of the iconic holiday television special “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” Lucy holds the football for her old pal to kick. We all know how this turns out: Charlie Brown charges toward the football and Lucy pulls it away, yet again, before he can kick it. Charlie Brown is left lying on the ground feeling frustrated again. 

With COVID-19 cases surging across many parts of the country, could one restaurant segment have an operating advantage over another for a while? Possibly.

As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 go up across the country, governments in several states continue to crack down on restaurant and bar operations with the hope that doing so will slow the spread of the nefarious virus.

While much has been made about the way mandated closures to thwart the spread of COVID-19 have decimated restaurants and other foodservice operators, the fallout from this pandemic continues to impact individual members of the supply chain in different ways. Take, for example, Brad Pierce, president of Restaurant Equipment World, an Orlando, Fla.-based foodservice equipment and supplies dealer. Pierce’s multifaceted business and role as an AEROBridge Disaster Response volunteer give him a unique perspective on the pandemic’s impact on foodservice and beyond.

The Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association held its 2020 conference remotely September 24-25. As part of this event, FEDA held an awards ceremony, with FEDA Chairman Green and Zoomba Group CEO and FE&S Publisher Maureen Slocum serving as masters of ceremony. Here’s a summary of the awards handed out.

In March, when states and local governments began handing down stay-at-home edicts to curb the spread of the coronavirus and subsequently closed restaurant dining rooms, a very common line of thought was things would get back to normal sooner than later. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. According to the National Restaurant Association, more than 5.5 million restaurant workers had lost their jobs through mid-May. And as I write this, many dining rooms across the country remain dark as some states cautiously start to develop plans to reopen their economies.

It was an occasion fitting for a Friday the 13th. Like so many other parents across the country, on that March date we received word our daughters’ school was shifting to remote learning for the next two weeks to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Spring break was still close to a month off. Certainly, students would be back in class by then, right? Well, you know the answer to that.

One presumed outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic is the demise of self-service options like buffets and salad bars. Through thoughtful hard work and collaboration, though, one restaurant chain is doing what it can to ensure its self-serve options continue to thrive once guests return for on-premises dining.

Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the restaurant-industry conversation has centered on customer-facing issues. The time has come, however, to turn the conversation toward back of the house, which serves as the very foundation on which any foodservice operation rests.

As the conversation gradually shifts toward reentry and what that could potentially look like, the foodservice industry may have gotten a glimpse of what’s to come last week when Georgia allowed restaurants to open their dining rooms.

The concept of restaurant dining rooms operating at reduced capacity paired with social distancing requirements bring to the table a variety of challenges for operators.

For the second consecutive week the restaurant industry has some positive news on which to chew.

Another week and more of the same for the restaurant industry. As confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise throughout the country, sales at restaurant chains remain generally flat as operators everywhere brace themselves for what might come next.

If there’s any one heartwarming aspect to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s the way operators, consultants and other members of the industry continue to come together in support of one another.

When David Bowie wrote those lyrics in his hit song “Changes” it’s highly doubtful he did so with the foodservice industry in mind. But that’s where the industry finds itself roughly five months into the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s time to face the strange.

Business leaders typically navigate widespread disasters in three phases. First comes crisis mode followed by a period of stability before eventually moving forward while adjusting to the new realities of the day. Such is the case for the foodservice industry as it comes to grips with what its new reality may look like in a post-pandemic world.