As we move into a controlled re-opening, restaurant operators are rethinking their business strategy to weather what promises to be a challenging economic climate. Some establishments are opening their doors for the first time in perhaps months, others are reviewing their current take-out and curbside business and charting a path forward.
Mandates and requirements will evolve day-by-day and there are no clear markers yet on how consumers will behave. There will be multiple stages of recovery for the food and beverage industry, starting with a rebound from complete shutdown or highly restricted operations, to a rebuild and finally a reimagining of the industry. Restaurant operators will need to remain agile and continuously explore new business models and service concepts.
Over the last several weeks, we have engaged in discussions with several customers considering various diversification strategies. For example, full-service restaurants opting to partner with a ghost kitchen to supplement their take-out business; increasing revenue channels by offering their facility and staff as a ghost kitchen for other brands; as well as creating new offers like meal kits and corporate partnerships for work from home essentials, to name a few. As we progress from rebound to rebuild, restaurateurs will need to be able to pivot quickly away from concepts that are not delivering fast returns and experiment with new offers. They will need to be able to free up cash and create balance-sheet flexibility as seen with the most resilient companies after the 2008 downturn.