Is the restaurant/hospitality industry dead as a result of coronavirus?

stugatz

Pelican
Reason I ask is because for multiple years it's been what I've fallen back on as a career backup. (I had a chaotic time in college and am likely not finishing.) It's always been easy money to bartend or wait tables and get some tip money to make ends meet when you're between jobs, and I've done it on and off for years. People also these days can't cook for crap, which especially has made eating out a major chunk out of people's budgets. I don't know when food as a past-time and a hobby peaked, but there has for years seemed to be an endless amount of shows that catered to foodies. (I mean, Emeril Lagasse and similar cooking shows were prominent in the 1990s, but it seemed to really become a genre into itself when Top Chef and Gordon Ramsay's endless TV shows got popular. And with stuff like travel often being a component - think Anthony Bourdain - it became a worldwide thing.)

However, the Chinavirus closed a ton of restaurants and absolutely slaughtered travel as an industry. (I in fact worked at an up-and-coming hotel that was going to be a huge deal for what we assumed was going to be 2020's DNC. It's since open with just a skeleton crew, and is likely not long for this world.) I was doubly devastated, as I really thought 2020 was going to be the year my leap of faith into a new job paid off.

Food delivery and preparation is (probably?) never going to go away, as apps like GrubHub and UberEats seem to be more prolific than ever, even with rising food costs lately. However - does our bad economy post-pandemic mean that fine dining and top-drawer hospitality is soon only going to be a pleasure of the rich and powerful? Are most restaurants just going to be barely-above-fast-food cheap crap where the mook doing the job doesn't have to do much more than just press a few buttons on a microwave?

I'd only make a major effort of jumping into this line of work if I can make a respectable living off of it. I've got a passion for it...but I have a passion for literature and film, too, and I never wanted to make a career out of those.
 

palsofchaos

Sparrow
I would not jump into this line of work in somewhere like the Twin Cities or even greater Minnesota. Waltz destroyed many restaurants and catering services with his lockdowns.

Somewhere like Wisconsin Dells might be better for this line of work. Its a tourist area plus its a year round destination.
 

kel

Ostrich
If I were to do it I'd look in to delivery-only, maybe weekly meals. Take advantage of cheap rent (but still need food handler licensure) rather than prime commercial. Easier said than done, but, right now the winners will be the creative ones who find a way to profit from the new normal.
 

stugatz

Pelican
I would not jump into this line of work in somewhere like the Twin Cities or even greater Minnesota. Waltz destroyed many restaurants and catering services with his lockdowns.

Somewhere like Wisconsin Dells might be better for this line of work. Its a tourist area plus its a year round destination.
Oh, lived in WI for nearly a decade and I plan on going back if I can help it. (Even if it’s something like Hudson, which is barely over the border.)

Yeah, been to the Dells multiple times and it’s always hopping. It’s maybe a little overly built up now, but very fun to be at.
 
It's hard to tell. People seem to have a lot of pent-up energy and money. There could be a temporary bubble that makes those industries good. But I don't think the mask fetish and various Covid variants are going to let the panic completely dissipate. Also I don't know why people can't cook for themselves. YouTube videos tell you everything you need to do.
 

stugatz

Pelican
It's hard to tell. People seem to have a lot of pent-up energy and money. There could be a temporary bubble that makes those industries good. But I don't think the mask fetish and various Covid variants are going to let the panic completely dissipate. Also I don't know why people can't cook for themselves. YouTube videos tell you everything you need to do.
I might be overestimating people not being able to cook for themselves, but I keep on hearing odd anecdotes and statements like "millenials don't own a can opener" and "milennials can't even boil an egg, and struggle to adequately oven bake a frozen pizza". I had a ton of friends in college who ate out twice a day most of the week.
 

kel

Ostrich
Especially in urban centers and among the youngish professional class eating out is the default, at least once a day for lunch and often for dinner, and even before lockdown career climbers would get delivery to minimize feeding oneself eating (lol) into one's work and screen time.

If you can provide office workers with a higher class of food that is still reasonably convenient you have a potential customer base. Every city's got that hot noodle place and that new panini place, they're fast but much nicer than pushing buttons on the microwave, it's reasonably well done food that people will make their reasonable indulgence.

The restaurant/hospitality industry is risky in the best of times. Lots of people have an idea of it being a fun, creative venture to open up a restaurant (or coffee shop, or bar), but it's long and hard and can take a lot of luck too. If you're going to undertake this, think of it as a service you're providing, focus on it as a business, address a specific need people have.
 

Thomas More

Hummingbird
In the Denver area, the downtown restaurants are crippled by their compliance with Chinkeevirus restrictions. However, in the outer suburbs, it's much more low key. Also it varies by individual restaurants. Some still want to use the temperature scanner on each person coming in, and write down their name and address for possible tracking of virus outbreaks. Others go so far as to not require masks at all, with the staff leaving their masks off as well. Most just have a minimal requirement to wear the mask until you get to the table, then it's off for the rest of the time.

As with anything, restaurant success varies a lot. There are clearly some restaurants that are doing well. There is a restaurant near me that has very decently priced food, and a full bar. This place is packed all the time. It's hard to get a seat there even for weekday lunch, even though there is no office district nearby. It's in a small strip center in a residential area. Dinner is always packed too. I know of other suburban restaurants like this that are doing a real good business.

I would say the wait staff at this place are doing real well. I'm sure there must be places like this somewhere near you, where you could make some money.
 

stugatz

Pelican
Reason I am mentioning only front-of-house work (waiting & bartending) is because I don't have the skills & temperament yet for back-of-house. It seems I get mixed opinions on whether it's worth pursuing culinary school. It can apparently be learned the hard way, hands on - but I would have to be taught stuff like knife skills, those I don't find intuitive.

I've known enough sous chefs personally where they do make decent enough money (although 18-hour days are common). It also seems like it draws in a troubled class of people, too - met more drug addicted people than I can count who worked as line cooks.
 

paninaro

Pelican
Even in a good year, plenty of restaurants fail. Margins are low, and competition is everywhere. Then when the government forced restaurants to shut down or scale back, only the strongest can survive in those restrictive conditions.

Like others in this thread, I think they will come back and come back strong. Lots of pent-up demand.

I think there will also be a market for all types of experiences, from fast-casual to fine dining. The market is huge -- everyone needs to eat.
 
Just a reminder, dining out was never a thing with the greatest generation. Most boomers remember that also when they were growing up. Both my significant other and I come from families where the father insisted on family meals at home every night and going out to eat was only for big family occasions like graduations. I know we have migrated from that now with Gens X, Y Z. I think we could get back to it again easily, though. Especially since even those who don't know how to cook can easily look up a YouTube recipe.
 
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