As I look around at the hustle and bustle of this mom-and-pop restaurant I’m writing from, I can’t help but feel emotional and overjoyed that this is for real. That I’m actually sitting inside a restaurant, without a mask, and surrounded by tables of families, friends, business associates and more, all feeling the same internal excitement.
Although menus are still limited, ingredient prices are rising and the foodservice industry is struggling with finding quality workers, the restaurant revival is in full swing.
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One year ago today, many of our nation’s restaurants and foodservice establishments were still closed due to lockdown measures brought on by the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). At this point, foodservice distributors had already pivoted to deliver direct-to-consumer. Restaurants re-tooled to cater to delivery, curbside pickup and other channels not previously in their wheelhouse.
Fast forward to present day, and I feel hope that an industry so plagued by COVID-19 actually has a good shot at coming back to life in a bigger, better way.
The pandemic forced restaurant operators and foodservice distributors to innovate and develop new ways of doing business in order to be more things to all people. Think beer and craft drinks available for curbside pickup. Think delivery from restaurants who previously didn’t have direct-to-consumer as part of their model. Think foodservice distributors donating food items to the homeless.
In a time of crisis, I, along with the rest of the nation, watched an industry join forces to keep food moving through the chain, to keep the farm-to-fork model alive and to keep restaurant doors open and people fed.
Restaurants were hit harder than any other industry during the pandemic, and still have the longest climb back to pre-COVID-19 employment levels, says the National Restaurant Association (NRA).
But, that’s not stopping this food segment from innovating to survive.
So, next time you’re out and about, be sure to support your local restaurant. Remember to shop local. Purchase the meal plan at camp to keep the foodservice distributors trucking along. It takes a village to keep companies afloat. The restaurant business needs that village now.