It’s been a tough two years for restaurants, to say the least.
The industry has seen small and big restaurants closing down, with decreasing to not receiving any order at all for those who could stay open during the pandemic. Some had to stick with take-away orders, deliveries, and drive-thrus, while others had to pivot into food trucks and small food carts just to thrive. Some had to transition to other food products to be able to sell.
The restaurant industry has been holding on to the stimulus aids that the government has granted. However, to some, it isn’t enough to get back up.
Now that vaccinations are already ongoing around the world, people think the economy is recovering. But is it really? Is the restaurant industry already getting back on track? Are restaurants already reopening? Are restaurant employees getting their jobs back?
What should restaurants do to continue growing despite the pandemic? Can restaurants still go back to their pre-pandemic sales? Well, it’s not impossible, but it might take a long shot.
More Restaurants Are Closing Down Despite the Economic Recovery
Vaccinations are already rolling out in different countries. Jobs are also being created as more industries are starting to recover. Many think that the world is going back to normal yet again. Apparently, not.
According to the National Restaurant Association, 110,000 restaurants had already been permanently closed since the onset of the pandemic last year. And while everybody believes that the industry is getting back on its feet, the group said 10,000 of these restaurants closed just September this year. Survey findings from 87% of fully-operating restaurants showed a 36% revenue drop.
Meanwhile, 83% of the store operators believe that sales will worsen in the next three months. Unfortunately, 37% of the respondents say they are unlikely to return to operations within the next six months. That is, if there is no additional aid from the government.
Aid for Restaurants Is Over for Now
Many restaurant owners had their hopes up at the beginning of 2021. Bad news for the restaurant industry, though, because according to news reports, the government has already put an end to providing aid to restaurants affected by the pandemic. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, the government had closed the Restaurant Revitalization Fund program of the Biden administration after providing grants to a total of 101,000 restaurants.
This Fund program was part of the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan worth $1.9 trillion. However, the 101,000 restaurants were just one-third of the 278,000 applications the fund had received since May last year. But according to sources, the funds have already been depleted.
Unfortunately, the fund closure will leave many restaurants hanging due to a lack of aid from the government. These are primarily small restaurants that could not avail of other loan grants from companies. While big and established restaurants can get wealth-building opportunities from growth equity investors, small restaurants have no choice but to rely on stimulus packages and loans.
That is if they’re going to be granted.
How Small Restaurants Can Thrive
Change is scary, but it’s the only way to survive this pandemic. Your small restaurant should be open for change.
Here are some tips on how to slowly get back up and invite more customers to your small restaurant. All these will, in turn, bring revenues you lost during the last two years of the pandemic. You might want to consider the following:
- Go all-in on your digital marketing efforts
While investing in professional digital marketing tools is recommended, you can start building your online presence in your own inexpensive ways. Start by creating a Facebook page where people can regularly visit and see your current food offers. This way, they will know which telephone numbers to call if they want food deliveries. You can post photos of your menu and provide a link where they can have their food delivered.
- Convert your small restaurant into a food truck
Surveys say customers will not fully return to dine-in experience even beyond the pandemic. So why will you continue renting and paying a huge amount of money for a space that people won’t even go in? Invest in a food truck that you can take wherever your target market is. This way, you get to reach more people in different places.
It may still be a long ride before the end of the tunnel but know that things are already getting better. You’re halfway towards revenue and recovery. Just be open to changing and adapting to the new normal dining experience. There’s no doubt your small restaurant can make it.