It looks like we’re about to experience some major shifts in our economy and that has me a little scared. But not too scared, because I’ve seen this happen before.
In the early 2000s, Thailand concocted Global Thai, a culinary diplomacy initiative. Ever wonder why the menus at Thai restaurants around the country world are almost identical? Now you know.
Today though, thousands of those restaurants are closed. Will they re-open?
Maybe not – a lot of local hardware stores never reopened after the dot-com recession. Instead, Home Depots and Lowe’s flourished in their place. They’ve got 4,200 US locations between the two of them.
If the coronavirus recession lasts a year or two, 100’s of thousands of restaurants could go under and if they re-open, it’s going to be different.
They’ll re-open as food trucks, which may no longer exist in trucks.
Or as catering and deliver-only restaurants, housed in low-rent warehouses on the edge of town, with no waitstaff, printed menus, hosts, or “front of the house managers”.
Or housed in “co-kitchens”  – coworking style shared kitchens producing who knows how many distinct restaurant menus and cuisines. Maybe chefs will instruct sous-chefs remotely.
Digitally, the new incarnations of Thai restaurants may look as delicious as they ever have, when viewed on Ubereats, GrubHub , and Kitchen Table (if they survive too). Or when viewed on the restaurants’ own websites.
But they way tech companies market to restaurants will change. And so will the way restaurants market to the customers. They won’t get review-bombed for bad service. Maybe they’ll be able to hire better cooks. Maybe one kitchen will support a Thai restaurant, an Indian restaurant, a Nepali restaurant, and an Italian restaurant – all at the same time.
If you’re the restaurant owner how do you sell that? Do you hide it or embrace it?
This is the point: how are your ideal clients going to be changed in two years and how will your marketing strategy adjust accordingly?
Footnotes & Errata
- I just made this word up; if anyone knows a better word please let me know! ↩
- Grubhub is betting on exclusivity deals, which it’s offering to COVID-slapped restaurants today. But that may or may not be to the advantage of many individual restaurants https://www.businessinsider.com/grubhubs-100-million-lifeline-to-restaurants-has-strings-attached-2020-3 ↩