Among the many aspects of life that are evolving because of the pandemic is residential real estate – perspectives are changing about the best places to live and people are looking for their living environments to fill a wider variety of needs. While flight from urban areas might not be as pronounced as media reports might have you believe, according to a Barclays Capital report on commercial real estate, urban developers are still feeling the need to redesign communities to attract and retain residents in creative ways: Think multifunctional spaces that allow people to live, work, socialize, work out and eat without leaving the complex. As a result, these developments are becoming a growth area for ghost kitchens. The Spoon reports that the virtual restaurant network C3 has partnered with an apartment developer to serve up meals for delivery, as well as for onsite service in bars and pool areas at communities in Phoenix and Nashville, with other cities being added soon. If your restaurant is looking for a new niche, consider making a pitch to self-contained living environments – from extended-stay hotels to apartment complexes to senior living condominium communities. These facilities may not only have the kitchen space your business needs but also the concentrated demand for food that feels special.
Remember in the pre-pandemic times when select restaurants were making room for remote workers in their dining rooms during slow periods? The model seems to be making a comeback – and this time the timing could make even more sense for restaurant operators. Opening your doors to remote workers may help you make your real estate footprint more profitable in this transitional period when corporate employers are weighing the pros and cons of maintaining workspaces for employees and restaurant operators are trying to weigh the long-term viability of dining rooms. To make your space remote-worker friendly, first assess and upgrade your tech setup: Make sure you have ample outlets or portable charging stations available, a printer or scanner, and reliable wifi. Configure your furniture setup to accommodate individual workers who may need to sit for long periods or small groups that need to collaborate. Offer a limited menu of hot and cold drinks, small meals and snackable items – remote workers can make for a captive audience for new ideas or restaurant specials you’re testing. Make workspaces available for a subscription so you can generate steady, predictable income from guests – along with new data-driven promotions based on the orders they place in your dining room. (Considering using your dining room for remote workers? As Nation’s Restaurant News reports, WorkChew, Spacious and KettleSpace are among the players in the restaurant-as-workplace space – and could be good places to look when thinking about next steps.)
Takeout is here to stay (and even if you’re eager to serve a full dining room again, you have reason to be happy about the takeout part). The proof is in the numbers. According to a new survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers by Paytronix Systems, 63 percent of the money that U.S. consumers spent on food orders last year was on food eaten at home. Digital channels supported those orders by a large margin: Of the money consumers spent online on food orders, 89 percent was spent on orders placed via desktop websites, mobile apps and aggregator apps. What’s more, the research found that consumers spent 50 percent more on average when they placed orders online for takeout. Paytronix CEO Andrew Robbins says that in 2021, a consumer’s ability to order online, collect orders via a drive-thru or curbside pickup, and earn rewards through loyalty programs will create the most opportunities for restaurants. This makes it all the more critical to be able to use your POS to quickly summon information about what your recipes cost, which menu items deliver the most profitability, and what items a guest has ordered in the past. If your restaurant receives a grant from the American Rescue Plan, consider using it to fine-tune your tech to streamline your takeout so you can suggest the profitable items and combinations that a guest is most likely to crave time and again.