Point of View

Content with a point of view from foodservice operators, dealers, consultants, service agents, manufacturers and reps.

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The Vial is Half Full...

January 2021 has arrived … thankfully.

maureen slocum lgNow, perhaps more than at any point in recent memory, one’s viewpoint about the future is dramatically impacted by the time horizon selected. In other words, help is on the way in the form of vaccines, but we have to get through the current surge in COVID-19 cases first.

The foodservice industry has been upended by the ongoing pandemic. So much so, that it is impossible to begin any serious discussion about the future of the industry without first acknowledging that fact. According to the National Restaurant Association, more than 100,000 restaurants were closed permanently or
long-term as of early December 2020. On average, the permanently closed restaurants had been in business for 16 years, and 16% had been open for at least 30 years.

There is no way to gloss over or minimize this reality. It is a substantial number and recovery will take time.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel, and it comes in the form of the vaccines that began to be distributed in the final weeks of 2020. Assuming the aggressive immunization schedule forecast by governments around the world, and particularly in the United States, where the impacts of the pandemic have been felt the greatest, continues to move forward, relief is in sight.

For operators able to remain open and those able to reopen in conjunction with a winding down of the pandemic, the future may look quite a bit brighter. For one thing, there is growing pent-up demand fueled by a public weary of quarantine and hungry for a return to normalcy. For many that includes a return to their favorite restaurants. According to a study completed by the National Restaurant Association in 2020, 71% of Americans surveyed said they are not using full-service restaurants as much as they would like.

I probably don’t have to point out that it is difficult to get 71% of Americans to agree on much these days; so, I’m going to count that as a win. There will undoubtedly be many challenges ahead for all of us, but at least now we can look to the future, even the immediate future, with greater hope and confidence.

All the best,