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Discussion Starter #1
One of the current positives coming out of this debacle may be the food industry finding a new revenue stream for their brick and mortar restaurant service.

All restaurants in MD are closed except for those with take out curbside pick up / delivery options. We are seeing many restaurants setting this in motion. Streamlining their menu, increasing their web presence for ordering, and rearranging the job descriptions of their staffs.

Food trucks have shown that their is a large segment of the population, especially millennials who flock toward this type of service. For the restaurant it can be cheaper without service Personel, China and silver , and the large commercial space needed for the tables and chairs. The millennials have shown through surveying that there considerations of food rarely revolve around the ambiance of the restaurant. Many chains already have curbside pickup but it really only accounts for 1-2% of their revenue so far.

Many will take this adjustment due to the virus and develop different restaurant business plans as they see some redefining of this space.
 

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I don’t know I eat in several places just because of the ambience. Go to Carnegie hall for a concert. Eat at the stage delie.
Take your wife for a romantic dinner. Beautiful setting. Impeccable service. Beautiful interior to the restaurant.
Go to the Japanese restaurant and watch them cook in front of you while doing amazing things with the knives. Or the local Brazilian.
Where I’m living now there’s whole sections of towns where only people from one part of the work live. So due to the street scene we commonly will go eat and then wander around buying exotic foods for cooking meals at home and other stuff as we walk off a interesting dinner.
I even have a couple of favorite diners. The whole 50s thing but original down to the chrome and Naugahyde seats.
Both the wife and I love cooking. We do classes time to time together. But going to a restaurant is a kick. Please don’t take that away.
BTW both my kids love restaurants. When either we or them make a new discovery we all try to go together.
Americans have food wrong. Food is just another excuse to socialize and have a good time with friends or family. If it goes the way you suggest many boutique restaurants , diners etc. will close . That would be sad.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Obviously I agree on your food philosophy , probably even amplified because of previous training and influence by European feelings of food. But as I mentioned millennials by and large who are surveyed and vote with their patronage have a different concept than us boomers, or even the gen x/ gen y generations.

It is they who will continue to have the expendable income.
It is they who have driven the nutritional information component in the food industry
It is they who continue to drive new inventive was of marketing and advertisement of the business
It is they who drive sustainability and no hormones or BHT

All of my food units have had to continually change with change in generational preferences or face the financial consequences.
 

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Chef was just expressing a sentiment not saying anything about the validity of your opinion. Think it would be sad. Social distancing makes perfect sense for the foreseeable future. People who social distance have shorter lives, higher rates of substance abuse, more mental health issues and more difficulties in general. There’s a literature to support that view as well. So it would be sad.
We’ve done take out and then got together with friends or family so maybe that will be the new normal. Still cooking with friends is fun. Hope that doesn’t decrease as well.
 

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Before this all began, I was visiting my kid in RI and I noticed this trend. I prognosticated that within 5 years or so places like Chilis, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and Ruby Tuesdays wouldn't even have inside service. Just imagine how the profit for owners would rise w/o so many employees and the furnishings of these lower cost eat-in fast food establishments.
Of course, there will probably always be the higher end restaurants for eat-in with the ambience, but it seemed take out places like the Chinese/Thai were doing a much better business than 10 years ago.
Before C-19, it seemed that there was much less disposable income in the middle class than in previous decades and this pandemic may very well put a lid on it completely for the average American family.
America may well end up without a middle class and a pre WWII type economy, kind of like Russia has. Perhaps instead of vodka, bourbon will be the government supported libation?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Chef was just expressing a sentiment not saying anything about the validity of your opinion. Think it would be sad. Social distancing makes perfect sense for the foreseeable future. People who social distance have shorter lives, higher rates of substance abuse, more mental health issues and more difficulties in general. There’s a literature to support that view as well. So it would be sad.
We’ve done take out and then got together with friends or family so maybe that will be the new normal. Still cooking with friends is fun. Hope that doesn’t decrease as well.
I totally agree with you just expressing the trend
Food is where many bond and families talk
In retirement communities is the high point of the day
 

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I totally agree with you just expressing the trend
Food is where many bond and families talk
In retirement communities is the high point of the day
As it is on a boat at sea. Dinner is generally the only time the whole crew can get together and chat.
 
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When I started working in College foodservice 36 years ago, 100 % of the residence meals were consumed on premise, in dining halls

By the time I retired 11 years ago 50 % of the meals were taken out, I suspect that % has increased.

They're willing to give up an " all you can eat" in the dining room, for a set menu to go.

It's definitely a Trend.
 

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It’s interesting guys need an excuse for get together. Gals don’t. I go fishing with my son-in-laws, to the shooting range or golf or fishing or sailing with friends. Usually somewhere in that day a meal is taken. The age group you’re talking about was the first to see increasing incidence of depression and other ills. Add in the increase due to internet socializing in the groups youngEr than millennials see this as a negative trend compounding how increasingly hard it is to be male.
 

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One of my concerns with all this "social distancing"* is that it will exacerbate an already strong trend we see in our societies. People are increasingly "social distancing" through the use of "social media"**.

There is a huge spike in mental health issues in the millennial, and now the Gen-Z (millennial's kids) generations. As with any human behaviour, the "why" is complex, but the rise of these online tools are strongly correlated with the trends. It may be an effect, but many researchers pinpoint this as one significant cause.

I fear that one of the lessons we're learning through this whole Covid-19 event (which is very real, and needs to be faced), is that we can be more socially distant from each other. That's not a good lesson for society.

*What an oxymoronic concept ... rather Orwellian in its double-speak.
** Another double-speak concept.
 

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Yes, The " Residence Life" folks at colleges and universities definitely did not like the " Take out" eat in your dorm room trend and campaigned against it. They were concerned that a big part of the Social development of 18-22 year olds would suffer as a result.

I suspect that the trend had started long before they got to college with video gaming etc.

Once take out became a thing on campus, the students started demanding " green" packaging, Re usable containers, etc. That will likely happen in the restaurant industry should take out continue to expand.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Good call

This actually happened 10 years ago or so. Because of the sanitation issues, reusable doesn’t work.

The use of green containers however is required in many large food service operations. The use of styrofoam or plastics which do not degrade in landfills is mostly extinct.

They usually take two forms. Either Biodegradable where they can be separated and put into a different stream like your trash paper or they are compostable. Most compostable are made from cornstarch. This includes the cutlery and straws.

Many of my large Cafe operations and university Cafes have composters on site. The compost ware containers are separated , pulped by the composer, and spread over adjoining farm operation fields. The issue with corn starch is that the cutlery when reaching about 150 degrees “melts” so some coffee spoons left in hot coffe cups......vanish.

And yes it was the millennials who drove this process to use green ware.
 

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It's hard for me to evaluate these sorts of trends. Each of us can only offer an anecdotal account. I do not see a dearth of restaurants.. or many closing which is notable, I am not in the business however.

I do know that my socializing has changed through the years depending on my personal circumstances. Back in the 70s and 80s when I lived in Manhattan I had much more active social life. I was single for many of those years... dated and went to parties, gallery openings, protests ate out for most of my meals. I remember the usual problem we faced... "Where are we going to eat?" (Or I when I was alone.). NYC had so many restaurants in walking or biking distance it was a hoot. Sometimes I would venture further and take a cab or the subway... or even drive. When married or with a live in GF, we would eat home a lot if she was a cook.... I wasn't and remain limited in my cooking repertoire. For me I could never cook as they do in a restaurant so why bother... for one person?

Yes I continued to dine out (a lot) and more and more to "exotic" foods... Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Thai etc. was my (our) fav... and Italian. Middle Eastern, Spanish, French, Polish, German, Mexican, Brazilian. Greek and so on. I considered this diversity a real treat and benefit of living in NYC. When outside the NYC area we usually had to eat "American"... meat and potatoes so of thing. I can count on one hand the number of times I ate at a fast food take away like MacDonalds or White Castle, KFC. But I did use Chinese take out and had my fav pizza joints and still do (and they still exist) Even this evolved as banh mi, and the famous Gray's Papaya for a hot dog and papaya drink (still do after Lincoln Center performance on the way home. I also ate meals at some iconic bars... don't drink in them... Cedar Tavern, Broome Street and Spring Street Bars, Finellis and so on.

If restaurants are dying in NYC... I haven't noticed. I did notice more small exotic and Asian restaurants seem to be be popping up. After returning from cruising in the mid 90s I settled outside the city... still ate at fav NYC spots but had to drive... and less locally as the burbs could offer the range and quality. We are eating more at home for sure and taking out a fair amount. But some dining is better in the restaurant and the setting is more pleasant. These places seem to be prospering.

And now as a senior my sense of taste and smell is declining. Food is just not as appetizing because my palette is in "decline". We go for the stronger flavors... so things like sushi are not as enjoyable. And finally... dining out is getting very expensive... as money is losing its value. But we do go out for seafood...and a good Asian meal.

I think dining out is becoming too expensive for young people and perhaps they grew up on fast food and so have little interest in food???? or chains like Outback, or Applebees, Red Lobster???
 

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Restaurants won't die out, but what they've been doing for some time now is offering take out. Even the High End restaurants do this.

If you only have so many seats and ability to turn them over ( longer times for high-end ) One way of increasing your revenue is to offer take-out and or delivery. This has been going on for awhile. After this, it will probably expand even more, as places who didn't offer it before are now finding it a viable way to maintain some cash flow.

Re-usables could work, we were looking at it hard. The operation would have to sanitize the container though. Which means you need around 2.5 to 3 containers per person you'd service. The used one they bring back, the clean one you give them, and perhaps one in the dishroom getting washed. And then, if they " forget" to bring back their container, they'd have to pay for a new one.

Nothing really degrades in a modern landfill. They are lined and they get a covering of soil. Polystyrene, in a way, is almost a desirable fill, as it is pretty stable. There is a cost to being green though. At the time, I was looking at the cornstarch containers etc. they were 3x the cost. Don't know if that's come down.
 

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Very interesting post, I really like the idea of reusable to go containers. Our church has looked into this for our free dinners for those who want(need) them.

I did some research online and found several larger cities who have started using such things. Cities like Durham, NC and Portland Oregon have citywide programs like this. There are drop off stations, where they get picked up, washed and re-used. I think it is a fantastic idea, which saves a ton of Styrofoam from going into the landfill. Some companies have a small usage fee, for this service, to help pay for the initial cost of the containers, and for replacing lost, or non-returned ones. Overall I think it is a great idea, that is hard to implement without customer participation.

As for the rest, we drive thru about 1/2 of the time, but don't do much in the way of takeout. For the most part we cook every meal ourselves, as the cost of eating out/takeout/delivery is prohibitively expensive. I'd rather grill my own $12 ribeye, than order a $29.99 ribeye at our local steakhouse. Call me Dutch aka....frugal.

https://durhamgreentogo.com/
https://www.goboxpdx.com/
 

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Tuperware type containers are reusable and can be provided by restaurants with a deposit... Wifey has compartmented ones she uses to take her lunch at time.... If you return the container you get the deposit back.... or if you don't, you bought a new container.

I used the plastic containers from take out restaurants (3 sizes) to store everything from food to hardware. Of course these are evil plastic... but they re used and even recycled.... why not?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The main problem with a restaurant is the sanitation aspect. Some containers while the look fine release chemicals when heated. The two types of sanitation are high heat (185 degrees in the rinse of a dishwasher) or chemical sanitation. Heating cheap plastic to 185 can deform it.

Compostables available to major users have come way down in price with competition. My company uses biodegradable which is 1.10 times non and compostable which is 1.5 times non.

We are not advocates of reusable do to the many different containers customers bring back as well as keeping track of each individual container for each customer. It could require a whole different additional person as well as storage.

Only large operations have high temp dishwashers generally. It is an operational nightmare to institute this. We have tried this repeatedly in many different sized units. Every time it creates. Customer issues is we misplace theirs, slows down the whole operation and invariably costs more than standardized take out containers overall.

Margins in restaurants are razor thin so this so far has not been a satisfactory way to go.

Sanitation is the number 1 priority here also. What works at home May in fact not be applicable magnified 1000 times for a small restaurant with a variety of containers. And again it greatly slows down the operation at service time.
 

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The main problem with a restaurant is the sanitation aspect. Some containers while the look fine release chemicals when heated. The two types of sanitation are high heat (185 degrees in the rinse of a dishwasher) or chemical sanitation. Heating cheap plastic .
What about "deep" unbreakable, dishwasher friendly dishes with some sort of shrink wrapped (toss away tops)... set up a roll over dish deposit or something?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Jeff,

The issue with using customers purchased ware is it becomes a tracking nightmare, a storage nightmare, causes increased labor, and slows down the restaurant as they search for the individuals containers . It’s easier to just keep things rolling with one time use biodegradable / compostable.

Like is said we have and others have attempted this and it only works in very small operations. It will not become an industry trend. It sounds great in theory, but becomes a nightmare in practice.
 

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I totally agree with you just expressing the trend
Food is where many bond and families talk
In retirement communities is the high point of the day
Pah! I have been very turned off by the restaurant experience in the passed couple of years. In some restaurants the noise level is artificially loud. So loud where you are no longer talking but yelling at your companions. I guess the restaurant owners think it creates "buzz" for some customers but, I never return to them. When I find a restaurant where I can talk in a normal voice to my table mates it is a pleasure. Though I'd rather cook at home and invite friends over.

Meanwhile I tried five Chinese restaurants in my neighborhood to get some takeout/delivery all were closed. Though I found a local pizzeria still delivering. Though I really wanted some Chinese cuisine.
 
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