Updated: Mar 18, 2020
The restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to worsen and sweep across the United States. Here are some ideas for restaurants and food businesses to recuperate costs and generate revenue in uncertain times.
1) Offer a variety of take-out and grab-and-go options. This can include low-cost bag lunches, family-size frozen meals (e.g. large pan of lasagna), cook-at-home meals (e.g. everything you need for a taco night), and party kits (such as a backyard picnic set or a birthday cake with candles, snacks, and treats for a family that still wants to do something special at home)
2) Cater to specialty diets—there are those with special dietary needs that may be having a hard time finding good options right now. This includes vegans and vegetarians, folks with gluten allergies, etc. If people with special diets had limited options before, it’s likely even more limited now.
3) Start a subscription service—whether it’s weekly meals for a family of four, locally roasted coffee, organic plant-based meals, or freshly baked bread, if you sell something that people consume regularly, offering a subscription service can offer a steady income for you while providing the comfort of reliability for your customers.
4) Sell your pantry items—turn part of your dining room into a marketplace to sell both perishable inventory that you need to move quickly (such as eggs or fresh vegetables), as well as pantry staples (like flour, pasta, or canned tomatoes) that are in high demand. Some restaurants are even selling toilet paper, soap and other home essentials that are currently hard to find in stores.
5) Reach out to your local schools, hospitals or any other business or nonprofit organizations that are still operating and offer to cater for them at a discount or for a tax benefit.
6) Contact the manager or buyer of your local grocery stores—you might be able to provide them with product they themselves are having a hard time stocking. Now might be a good time to try and establish some new wholesale accounts. Just check your local and state laws or public health department to see what regulations apply to you.
7) Collaborate with other local businesses—perhaps your local liquor store or bodega will want to carry your product and increase their offerings during a time when customers are reluctant to make multiple shopping trips.
Finally, to recupe or mitigate costs, try talking to your landlord or bank about delaying or reducing your rent or loan re-payments while business is down. Don’t forget to vacuum-seal, freeze, and preserve any food you can’t sell. And go through your credit card statements immediately to unsubscribe from any unneeded services that bill automatically; those can often fall through the cracks.
Good luck to everyone out there. It's a rough time for the industry, but you haven't been in business as long as you have without grit, you can do this. And please don’t hesitate to reach out if we can provide support in any way.
**Next week, we'll be posting another entry on additional marketing tips to attract customers.
Swan & Co.