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How Restaurants Changed to Survive COVID-19

Restrictions to reduce COVID-19’s spread changed how businesses operated. From mask policies and 6-foot waymarks to contactless options and nationwide shutdowns, restaurants updated their practices to survive the pandemic while keeping employees and customers safe.

Pickup and Delivery

In 2020, over 60% of the money restaurants received from orders was spent on takeout and delivery. Other restaurant spending comprised less than 40% of profits.

As a result, restaurants had to pivot and streamline their structure to become more pickup and delivery friendly. This shift resulted in many spending more on personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, sanitization products and plexiglass dividers.

To create a safe environment with the necessary precautions, many restaurants improved their digital presence and optimized online ordering. They designed their in-store environment to limit person-to-person contact. What’s more, many establishments also turned to using delivery drivers working for platforms like GrubHub and DoorDash to accommodate new guidelines.

Scaling Back

While some restaurants received forgivable loans, others were left on their own. As a result, many businesses reduced their operations’ scale to lessen their costs. More than half of all dining establishments did this by using quick response (QR) code menus, reducing the need for paper menus. They also offered limited menu options to create less waste.

Others shut down their storefronts completely, choosing to move to a ghost kitchen business structure, eliminating the overhead costs of maintaining a physical storefront. Some restaurants decided to hibernate to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. They cut down on their expenses and waited for reduced restrictions and nicer weather to bring customers back.

Organizational Changes

With many employees deciding not to return to high-risk, customer-facing positions, the foodservice industry is shifting. As a result, restaurants must consider what they offer their teams and how they interact with their customers.

Restaurants are beginning to adopt higher wages and better benefits to keep existing employees and attract new ones. Other establishments are reconsidering the customer experience they offer and creating an environment where guests can feel safe and normal amidst the chaos.

Grow in Cumberland Valley With CAEDC

Have the changes your business implemented to survive the pandemic had a lasting impact on your restaurant? If you need extra help during this time, take a look at our Recovery and Reopening page to find help. You can also contact us to learn more about the services we offer at Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC).

To shine a light on our resilient restaurants, CAEDC created the Meal Madness campaign in March 2022 to showcase our top 64 restaurants and have residents and visitors vote for their favorite. Vote and see the winners on Instagram @CumberlandValleyPA.

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