Over the past year, a majority of operators streamlined their menus to manage through the pandemic. In fact, the National Restaurant Association’s 2021 State of the Industry Report showed that 63% of fine dining and half of casual and family dining restaurants now offer fewer items.
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By summer, after shelter-in-place guidelines were lifted, indoor dining had resumed around the country (with restrictions varying by state). But with infection rates rising, a number of regions are again significantly restricting or shuttering dine-in service, forcing many restaurant operators to focus on outdoor dining as an alternative.
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People are relishing normalcy wherever they can find it these days. For some, that means sipping a fruity drink under a patio umbrella at a restaurant that not very long ago wasn’t open for in-person dining. Although the signs of the coronavirus are ever-present—waiters wearing masks, tables spaced 6 feet apart—diners once again have the ability to eat a meal they didn’t cook themselves, surrounded by more than just the people they live with.
Few industries have been hit as hard by the coronavirus pandemic as the foodservice industry. The statistics are staggering: the National Restaurant Association estimates that 8 million restaurant workers have been laid off or furloughed since the crisis began—and that the industry will lose $240 billion in revenue by year’s end.