More than six months into the coronavirus pandemic, restaurants as we once knew them are fundamentally changed. For insight into what’s to come, experts across the industry — chefs, restaurateurs, media, producers, sommeliers, and activists — shared what they predict. The stories in this series explore diversifying revenue streams; ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion; building a deeper community connection; nurturing a healthier workforce; and joining together to survive. This is the future of restaurants.
The pandemic has fundamentally changed the restaurant industry. This year, owners were forced to lay off employees, applying for government loans to stay afloat. Once-crowded dining rooms pivoted to takeout and delivery, often reinventing their entire concepts and menus. Meanwhile, as awareness grew about social inequities and racial biases, restaurants stepped up as voices of leadership in their communities.
More than six months in, it’s clear that these shifts are neither minor nor temporary. The future of the industry will look different from what we once knew, because the current moment demands it.
For insight into what’s to come, we asked experts across the industry — chefs, restaurateurs, media, producers, sommeliers, and activists — what they see for the future of restaurants. Calling for new revenue streams and fair pay, and championing diversity and inclusivity, they shared visions for a future industry that’s equitable, sustainable, and a force for positive change.
Explore the topics below to learn how experts see these important topics evolving to build a better, stronger industry.
Change is good and necessary, experts agreed. But they also expressed a belief, seen below, that restaurants — in whatever form or fashion — are forever.
“The restaurant business will survive. Just with everything else that goes through change, there’s always going to be amendments. People are ready to miss the things they love about dining out, and everyone is going to want to go back to how it used to be.” — Tavel Bristol-Joseph, restaurateur and executive pastry chef at Emmer & Rye, Hestia, Kalimotxo, Henbit, and TLV
“[My ultimate vision for the industry in five or 10 years is] the rise of local and neighborhood-focused restaurants taking on the spotlight where they can have the ability to operate as more than just a restaurant but a true source of nutritious, healthy, and ethically grown food. Their entire ecosystem will slowly converge and more operators will have a holistic approach toward their respective cuisines.” — Roni Mazumdar, founder and CEO of The MasalaWala, Rahi, Adda Indian Canteen, and Biryani Boi
“Will there be fewer restaurants? Definitely. Will prices be higher? For sure. But I have to hold out hope for independent restaurants and believe that somehow, once we have a vaccine and we can get together without masks and shields, we’ll rediscover our love for eating out and the industry will come back. By their very definition, restaurants are restorative: They’re where we gather with old friends and make new ones, where we celebrate and heal. At the risk of sounding dramatic, I don’t think we can survive without them. They will come back. They have to.” — Maile Carpenter, Editor-in-Chief, Food Network Magazine and The Pioneer Woman Magazine