demographics and a health crisis like this one. This restaurant transformation can be realized through modifying service style, adding pickup windows, revamping design, implementing virtual-only operations, totally rebranding— there are endless possibilities, many of which do not require huge investment. Notable self-reinventions include restaurants like the Pig, which transformed itself from fine dining to takeout BBQ, noted Acme Paper on social media. Fine-dining establishments, probably more than other concepts, can leverage their pedigrees and chefs to transform themselves into quick service or virtual restaurants (brands for delivery only). Fast-casual 3.0 restaurants, which are chefoperated and are created for a strong takeout business have risen as classic examples of how chefs can think outside the norm. Chiko, a local Chinese-Korean fusion restaurant, with its robust takeout business and dedicated takeout windows, is an example. Virtual restaurant brands are currently operating in the third-party delivery space, including Uber Eats and DoorDash. Washington City Paper recently highlighted a seafood restaurant that uses virtual brands to spotlight non-seafood dishes on its menu: MidAtlantic Seafood in Takoma Park has an agreement with Uber Eats to launch these virtual restaurant concepts. You won’t find the names on any sign or any online menu, only in the third-party app. Virtual restaurant concepts do not only exist in apps, and they’re not relegated to Uber Eats or third-party delivery providers. Restaurants can leverage virtual restaurant brands in many ways now that consumers are primarily shopping online and in digital formats for their food. Rick Zambrano has nearly two decades supporting food businesses, and has experience in menu analysis, menu rollout support, consulting, financial analysis, video marketing, writing, and research. As a thought leader specialized in the areas of menu analysis and restaurant trends, his insights appear in research reports, foodservice magazines and business periodicals.
Don’t insist customers come inside your restaurant. Some will be ready and many others expect you to come to them during the pandemic. Photo by Daniela Araya.
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