Experts: Restaurants must use technology to stay afloat

Written by James Shea

According to a recent article in CrunchBase, restaurants have seen a dramatic decrease in foot traffic during the pandemic and must adopt some type of technology — such as online ordering or delivery — or find other revenue streams to survive.

“The low point came in the middle of April —when all of the states were in some kind of lockdown—with traffic down 75 percent,” said John Kelly, CEO at Zenreach. “Those are dramatic numbers, and the country has never seen anything like that.”

Restaurants have a variety of technology to choose from. High-technology companies offer text message ordering services and plug-in functionality for a website. Companies can also get help restaurants training staff and modifying operations to compete in the new environment. Third-party apps. are an option for restaurants that want to easily make the transition.

Experts say that it is easier for restaurants that already had some form of online ordering and delivery before the pandemic to make the transition. Otherwise, restaurant owners are building an entirely new business from scratch.

“Those that have a menu that can travel, but have not done delivery, need to change quickly if they haven’t already,” Alan Hayman, president of Hayman Consulting Group. “Everyone is going to have to change, regardless, because consumer habits are going to change. Delivery and takeout operating modes will be important for the next year.”

For the foreseeable future, restaurants in many cities cannot rely on in-person seating, they say. Limits on seating capacity and the public’s uneasiness with eating in a restaurant limits the viability of many restaurants.

“There hasn’t been an answer to New York opening at 25 percent capacity and helping a restaurant with that,” Brad Svrluga, co-founder and general partner at Primary Venture Partners. “You can do a much bigger order-ahead business, and that helps fill the hole but it is not creative. It is going to take a while to get back to normal, especially for a restaurant in a business-dominated neighborhood. They have to find ways to be more efficient or they won’t stay afloat.”

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