Restaurants innovate amid COVID-19 and worker shortages [Amplify Friday]
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Food is more than fuel for our bodies, and restaurants are more than establishments that prepare food. Getting together to eat in a restaurant is a matter of community, experience and fun.
People who work in restaurants are also more than just workers – they are people who want to help others have a hot meal, people who sometimes miss their own families because of current events, and people who run from table to table offering a service with a smile and are grateful for an extra hand … even if that hand is a robotic hand.
Here are three stories of how several restaurants are dealing with a range of current events as well as an overview of trends and innovations in the restaurant world.
Oklahoma Restaurant Enthusiasts Donate to ‘Donation Wall’ to Feed the Hungry
Several Oklahoma restaurants have adopted the practice of what is called a “receipt wall” or “donation wall” to help provide meals to those in need.
Here’s how it works: Customers and even benefactors from other states can prepay a meal and leave the receipt on the wall. Then those who are hungry but don’t have the funds can come in and choose a receipt on the wall to receive their free meal.
The practice is believed to have started at Miami, Oklahoma’s hot dog restaurant The Dawg House. Owner Jennifer White taped the first receipt on the wall to help those hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and those who were homeless – the wall was covered with receipts for meals within eight hours. By April of this year, over 600 free meals had been donated at The Dawg House. Seeing the need, other establishments like Hi-way Café, Montana Mike’s Steakhouse and Zack’s Café got involved.
Beth Hillburn, owner of the Hi-Way Café along Route-66, says a couple have visited three times in the last week of a month – when funds are usually scarce for those living on a check. payroll – apologizing for using the receipts. A week later, she said, they came back and donated to the wall because their economic situation had improved.
Restaurant Tech Startup Raises $ 10 Million for Computer Vision to Improve Order Accuracy
The wrong take-out order can ruin your dining experience. And for some, it’s not just a matter of personal taste. For people with food allergies and other dietary restrictions, taking a bite in the wrong order can have negative consequences on their health and well-being.
A startup has just raised $ 10 million in funding to help fast food restaurants fulfill accurate orders through the use of technology. This is in addition to the $ 50,000 they raised in 2020.
Agot AI is working with restaurants to install aerial cameras with computer vision. The technology analyzes orders as workers prepare them to ensure they are correct.
“We see that all over the [fast-food restaurant] industry order accuracy is becoming an increasingly important issue with the shift to drive-thru, ”said Evan DeSantola, Co-Founder and CEO of Argot, explaining how COVID-19 trends have pushed more customers to drive to the drive-thru. indoor dining place.
The order accuracy rate for fast food restaurants has fallen to 84% this year, and installing cameras with computer vision technology similar to that used in autonomous vehicles can help restaurants improve and improve. to meet customer needs.
Texas Restaurant Hires Robots To Sing “Happy Birthday” To Customers
Amid the labor shortage, one restaurant has hired robots to help its fellow humans – and customers and employees love them.
Texas was hit not only by COVID-19, but also by a dangerous ice storm last year, and the owner of the Latin restaurant Espartaco Borga wondered how La Duni would survive. Then, the diners started to show up again for the meals inside. But many employees did not return.
Borga turned to Plano, Texas-based robotics company American Robotech, who said, “We believe robotics and AI don’t replace people, but rather help people have better lives. . ” And it improves the lives of restaurant workers. The robots do the heavy lifting of the trays and save the restaurant money which then allows for higher wages for the employees.
Customers love robots because they laugh and sing.
“Restaurant waiters, bartenders and other workers who depend on a constant stream of customers – and often the tips they leave – have been disproportionately affected by a pandemic that spreads through social proximity,” reports The Washington Post.
Although many restaurants have reopened for indoor dining, employees have not returned. The reason? It’s not worth the shot. Hours and pay for workers have often been reduced – while their tasks have often increased to include enforcing masking and vaccination policies.
The day after Savourite Southern Cuisine featured in HBO’s sports documentary Hard knocks, the dining room of the Plano, TX restaurant was closed due to understaffing.
The number of jobs in the service sector is down 4.6 million from what it was before the start of COVID-19.
6 restaurant trends to watch
As the restaurant industry strives to manage ongoing supply chain disruptions, to eat safely amid threats from COVID variants, from restaurateurs with diverse opinions and needs regarding issues such as wearing masks and vaccines, frustrated and suspicious employees, and unfilled jobs. openings, here are the trends and innovations happening in the industry:
- Between social distancing measures and staff shortages, restaurants must reduce the number of diners they welcome. This opened the door to booking platforms like OpenTable and Resy. Restaurant Clicks compares and contrasts different platforms so that you can make an informed decision on which one, if any, best suits your needs based on whether or not automatic confirmation via SMS, social media is integrated. and questionnaires, and their cost.
- Speaking of online reservations, with some places requiring proof of vaccination for patrons to dine indoors, tech-savvy restaurants are turning to apps to streamline checking. The OpenTable booking portal partners with CLEAR, a biometric security company, to activate a digital vaccination card.
- Many restaurants use QR codes for quick and easy access to their menus these days, but only around 18% take advantage of the ability for customers to order their food directly from a menu app – although 43% of customers say they would like this convenience.
- In the second year of the pandemic, restaurants turned their old cabins into the perfect works of art to protect patrons from street traffic and create Instagram-worthy backdrops. Flower studio Floratorium, known for its large-scale installations, took care of creating floral canopies for restaurants in Manhattan. Meanwhile, the Bronx’s Boogie Down Grind restaurant created a subway car design for its alfresco dining cabins.
- With places more limited than ever, Food and wine points out that “free leftovers” put a strain on restaurants. Since table turnover is important to profitability, restaurants will likely try to speed it up. Busy business offers 9 tips restaurants can use to deal with diners who won’t leave. It is clear that investing in training waiters on the phrases and tactics to handle these situations is essential, but it is also helpful to find creative ways to entice diners to the bar, the outdoor patio or to come back for a while. in the past.
- At Thomas, we said it was time to bring the vending machine back – and our prediction came true, as several vending machine-style restaurants emerged as a contactless solution to COVID-19.
Image Credit: Thomas