Eating out at a restaurant has traditionally been a relaxing and social activity. For decades people came into an eating establishment, sat down, ordered food, and ate–there wasn’t a whole lot of science about it. Then, in 2020 that changed due to the pandemic. Since then, a lot of science has gone into eating at restaurants. Thanks to COVID-19, here are some things restaurant owners need to know for 2022.
The most significant point restaurants need to be aware of for 2022 is the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s update of its COVID-19 guidelines regarding mask requirements. There are places masks are still considered a high priority. Other locations are considered a medium priority, but most places are low priority. Based on data on hospital admissions, bed availability, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area, 70% of restaurants in the United States are now at low priority. However, the CDC warns, this may be temporary since we have not entered the endemic stage yet. Click here to check your city’s current level on CDC’s national map .
Next, according to the National Restaurant Association’s state of the industry report, the biggest challenge for restaurant owners in 2022 is staffing. Attracting and retaining employees became a struggle in 2021 and will continue to present obstacles. Although the foodservice industry is expected to add 400,000 jobs this year, many restaurants remain drastically understaffed. Only Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Arizona have maintained the same number of restaurant employees as they had pre-pandemic. Fifty percent of restaurant operators say recruitment and retention are where they plan to focus their attention.
Despite the foodservice industry’s formal prediction to reach $898 billion in sales during 2022, delays or shortages will persist, sending prices up, resulting in inflation. In addition, restaurants can expect continued supply chain issues. Thankfully, the National Restaurant Association will continue to pursue government support at federal and local levels to aid restaurant operators in the face of difficulties.
Adjusting to the New Normal
Lastly, 2022 is expected to continue to make adjustments toward the new normal. Many patrons do not want to go back to the way things used to be. They like the changes. Restaurant recovery means keeping the innovative technology for contactless and digital ordering, outdoor spaces, alcohol-to-go sales, hybrid retail and restaurant models, plant-based options for meats, and the rise of the robot. Staying at home and ordering food has become on par with eating at an outdoor restaurant. There is no social condemnation of one being better than the other. The restaurant industry has endured growing pains due to COVID -19. All manner of acquiring food has become equal. The foodservice and hospitality industries have been forced to pivot, adjust and think outside of the box. The industry has drastically evolved and now, customers have a variety of choices.