Happy new year to all of you , we all wish that 2022 will be a year of freedom , prosperity , health , wealth , travel !I don't think anyone would argue with these ! Yet the questions is and will be , what will happen to the Restaurant industry specifically in 2022? Let me talk about what is happening in Quebec city where I am currently , before I go to the bigger picture of what happens to restaurants elsewhere... Lockdown is back , no dine-in is allowed again , only take away and delivery , curfew for supposedly limited time which starts 10pm to 5 am , and a must to close on Sundays- something not clear to date . I am not saying this might happen with all the world once again , but who can say it will not ? can anyone guarantee anything in this mad world ? Quebec restaurateurs are about to give up , not only because staffing was already a big issue and to find motivated staff to work in restaurants was the biggest challenge in the two years at least , but now again everyone are supposed to generate sales from online deliveries and take out! what about those high end concepts that are not meant to deliver ? those who has spent millions in decorations and design and site development ? will this means many will be closing down soon ? most probably yes , mostly casual dining and fast food restaurants will be surviving for two reasons , less skilled staff are required and most of them depends anyway on hiring students , second these have already the delivery as part of their business from day one when they were planned to be ! What happens to those outlets serving airports ? will simply keep suffering from less travel , what about those near touristic sites, museums , downtown , or even near universities with big percentage of students now able to study online ? or those near main office or government buildings and those are working from home now ? well all of these have already lost of a % of their clientele that might not come back before long time ! and we all know that margins of restaurants profitability has been at lowest in the last 5 years at least ! I am afraid to see new trends replacing our lovely restaurants , but we are already seeing it ! Vending machines , Supermarkets preparing and selling meals , people preparing food and selling from home wherever law allows this , Petrol stations having more packed and ready breakfast and lunch meals ready ! just to name few ! What about the social part of going to restaurants ? meeting friends ? celebrate occasions , business lunch !just to name few …I don't say restaurants will disappear but definitely whenever dine in will be allowed again in this part of the world , there will be far less options that are available for diners and waiting might be long for some to be able to book for an occasion until the business gets confidence again ! In other parts of Canada , restaurants are still open for diners , but i am already hearing from friends who are in the industry that more restrictions might come sooner or later with Covid cases raising again , as for US nothing is clear to date but situation is challenging and lot of politics in place , if I look at Middle East where I come from , i can see that Governments are under big pressures and are afraid of closing down again as their plans are to have economy growth , but as health comes first , many might step again into the game of lockdowns and restricting dine in or by limiting seating capacities which will in a way or another reduce sales and profit potentials of those which will add to the fact that markets are already becoming mature and business is overcompetitive and as we say the cake slices becoming already smaller for everyone ! I don't want to forget Europe or UK or Australia , in UK they already limited indoor seating and more restrictions coming soon as it looks, in Europe cases raising and no-one knows that is waiting for the industry ! In brief , as it looks these are not the easy years for those who chose to enter their markets with big investments , restaurants ROI in many cases is crossing the 10 years ! which 10 years before used to happen in 3 to 5 years , smaller and Non premium locations will be highly on demand and you might be surprised to see many closed shops on downtown main streets ! Not to forget malls , which is they keep their high rental price points will only have handful of restaurant and dining options available to cater to mall visitors , yes most of business will be home deliveries or pick up but for many Passionate restaurateurs who loves serving their customers and enjoy seeing repeated guests and ensure to great them by names and recognize their preferences this is no longer fun and we are losing this part of the pleasure in
our lovely restaurant industry .... To Summarize and advise , for the ones who are still loving to go into a restaurant business investment , i highly advise them to consider negotiating careful lease agreements and reduce their risks to the maximum possible , think about alternatives in every aspect , reduce unnecessary investment , consider minimal seating indoors and potential to set up outdoor patio seating whenever conditions and seasonality allows , work on small menus , reduce your purchasing list , combine use of menu items to use in making multi items on your menu , and mostly work on boosting staff loyalty , this is the biggest challenge in the upcoming years for the industry which is hiring , retention and engagement of staff ! which these points alone requires many blogs and writings , I trust that you are all going to be more realistic with the projections before applying for loans or find business partners , i know many used to double or triple or even more their projections , now it is time to project minimal and hope for the best returns ! Happy 2022 for everyone especially to all Restaurateurs and Hospitality industry colleagues .