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Restaurant industry predictions for 2021 (Includes interview)

In particular, long-standing local mainstays are struggling to survive, with some industry insiders predicting that 85 percent of independent restaurants (which account for 70 percent of all establishments) will close in the near future.

What can be done? Heading into 2021, Tasso Roumeliotis, CEO and Founder of Numa has provided Digital Journal with some predictions. Numa is an AI-powered virtual assistant created to help local businesses and restaurants like Denver’s best chicken wings, CD’s Wings, thrive by making a business number textable.

Curbside and takeout is here to stay

According to Tasso Roumeliotis: “We don’t even need statistics to prove that curbside and takeout has exploded, but will it last? Most definitely. According to research from Technomic, 40 percent of Americans took advantage of takeout and curbside delivery (at both fast casual and dine-in) during the pandemic. About two-thirds of those stated they would continue using these services even if restrictions are lifted.”

New ways to communicate with customers

Roumeliotis says: “With Gen Z hitting the job market, restaurants will increasingly communicate with employees and customers via messaging versus calling. When it comes to staff, part-time employment is a large part of the business model, so connecting with people on their availability for shifts or overtime via messaging will expedite the response time. Text messaging is not only a more efficient way to communicate with this generation, but also improve customer service. Take Lex Gopnik-Lewinski of Augie’s Montreal Deli in Berkeley, Calif., for example.”

He adds that: “By implementing a technology that converted his landline into a textable number, he was able to keep his doors “open” and his customer calls and requests answered—even when his authentic Montreal-style Jewish delicatessen was closed. He’s now using text messaging to successfully communicate with customers from his restaurant, which had to quickly transition from indoor dining to outside pickup when stay-at-home mandates were issued.”

Online ordering is here to stay

With more people ordering food online and opting for takeout and curbside, Roumeliotis says that “ratings and reviews will become more important than ever. According to BrightLocal, 82% of consumers read reviews for local businesses and 48% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written within the past 2 weeks. A positive reputation online helps customers trust restaurants, converts searchers into orders, and boosts local search rankings. With the proliferation of social media, it is understandable.”

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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