One of the most accurate words to describe the challenges the world has faced since March 2020 is “unprecedented.”
The COVID-19 pandemic forced our entire global society to reconsider nearly all aspects of life. An activity as simple as grabbing a bite to eat at a restaurant was suddenly cause for anxiety and an abundance of caution.
Restaurant owners were forced to wear even more hats than usual. In addition to serving food to customers, they had to play moralistic roles as arbiters of safety and sanitation. Someone on the restaurant staff testing positive for COVID-19 could mean shutting down the restaurant for up to two weeks—not to mention extensive contact tracing and the inherent risk of severe illness.
Operating in such a tight financial bind with days or weeks of sunk revenue caused many restaurants to prematurely and permanently close, putting dozens of employees out of work.
With so much on the line, the vast majority of restaurant owners were determined to avoid this outcome and take their well-being into their own hands.
Most have turned to innovations around contactless experiences in order to maintain their bottom line and keep staff and customers safe. But implementing these new practices and disrupting traditional modes of doing business hasn’t been easy for everyone.
Fred Castellucci, president and CEO of Castellucci Hospitality Group, a major restaurant group in Atlanta, spoke to the perpetual state of confusion and fear caused by the pandemic. Each of his restaurants had to begin navigating changing public health regulations right as the crisis began.
“[We were] always trying to figure out the safest possible ways to serve the guests, and that evolved over time,” he explained. “While things were frequently changing, certain low-risk adaptations became commonplace all across the restaurant industry.”