Sit-down dining isn't gone forever, but delivery is 'here to stay': David Segal
It’s not just empty tables that are threatening the future of the restaurant industry, according to the entrepreneur behind a gourmet takeout chain.
“The restaurant industry is broken in many ways and it was a long time coming,” David Segal, founder of Mad Radish Gourmet Fast Food and DavidsTea, told BNN Bloomberg in an interview on Friday. “The bigger impact on the industry, long-term, is going to be the shift to delivery and the costs that are associated with that shift.”
Segal pointed to the rise of delivery apps like UberEats, DoorDash and Skip the Dishes that are not only threatening the net profits of restaurants themselves, but also prompting customers to re-think whether they even want to go out.
“What the pandemic has taught us is that we don’t necessarily have to go out and do things out of necessity anymore, we can do them only because we want to,” he said. “It’s going to depend on your mood and your life in that moment.”
He said that some chefs and restaurateurs are offsetting some of these losses with "ghost kitchens" that operate offsite from bricks-and-mortar restaurants but still provide a way to get food prepared for delivery orders, helping to offset some rental costs.
One chef who has been particularly critical of how the pandemic is hitting the industry is Oliver and Bonacini Restaurants founder Andrew Oliver. A proponent of rent relief and wage assistance, Oliver told BNN Bloomberg in early October that a lack of continued action from the federal and Ontario provincial governments to subsidize wages could result in “tens of thousands, if not 100,000-plus [workers] laid off over the coming days and weeks, in Ontario and Quebec alone.”
Segal said that in a post-pandemic world, restaurants have to be prepared to offer their customers more flexibility than a seat at a table.
“Sometimes you’re going to walk into a restaurant and order during a quick break, read a book in the window, or at a table, other times you’re going to want to order delivery from your home, other times you’re going to want to zip in on your way back from a meeting or from work and grab your lunch and go. We want to be able to address all three of those instances,” Segal said.
However, Segal said he thinks the in-person experience is not going away.
“I think people are still going to want some human contact when this is over,” he said.