Pandemic innovations & automation will shape restaurants beyond 2022

As they bid to stay ahead of the curve through the persistent and evolving challenges of 2022, restaurants plan to continue at least some of their pandemic pivots and add more automation in order to counter ongoing staff shortages. 

That’s the conclusion of recent research from payments and technology solutions provider Square, which recently released its Future of Restaurants report based on a poll of restaurateurs in Canada.

Keeping calm and carrying on

Restaurateurs had to get creative to expand and diversify their offerings to customers through the pandemic. Ultimately, many of the new ways of doing business established through a two-year-long pandemic are likely here to stay.

Nearly all restaurateurs surveyed (96 per cent) plan to keep at least one pandemic innovation for the foreseeable future. Those have included offerings such as online cooking classes (52 per cent), meal or cocktail kits (50 per cent), grocery items or other products for sale (48 per cent), subscriptions or memberships (48 per cent), and pre-made frozen meals (44 per cent).

“Customers are the lifeblood of restaurants, but often it feels as if restaurants are only able to understand bits and pieces of who their customers are. New tools help restaurants recognize who their regular customers are, which customers churned and, overall, how customers are experiencing the restaurant,” said Bryan Solar, GM Restaurants at Square.

“This can unlock a lot of opportunities for restaurants to build a larger, more loyal customer base, as well as launch new revenue streams that will appeal to their customers wherever they are.” 

Automation is filling gaps

Meanwhile, restaurateurs are also looking to automation to help fill critical gaps in many areas when not fully staffed, including accepting payments and managing orders.

RELATED: Automation can make the restaurant experience better for everyone — not just robots

Almost all (99 per cent of) restaurants agree that increased automation for back-of-house operations would allow staff to focus on more important tasks, particularly as 85 per cent continue to report labour shortages.

In particular, restaurateurs see automation as being able to fill critical gaps in many areas when not fully staffed, including accepting payments (57 per cent) and managing orders (56 per cent).

Access the full Future of Restaurants report here.