The end of fine dining

Let me preface all of this crystal ball gazing by saying I hope I am wrong, I hope I am as wrong as when we laughed at a colleague who said we should buy bitcoin. Bitcoin huh, it’ll never work. Bitcoin was around 50c at that time. So what do I know. Zip.

I do think I know people, I do know food and I suspect I know that we’re not close to starting with Covid-19’s real impact on the hospitality industry.

My mind has been spinning in recent weeks as restaurants (especially higher end) in Utah have been closing up shop. “We’ll see you in 14 days”, they optimistically offer. Yes, yes, I know, I just went on about how irrationally optimistic I am myself – but I’m also a pragmatist.

There’s no way the lock down of restaurants in Utah ends after 14 days. There’s no way it ends after thirty. 60 days, 90 days, 120 days, maybe? What if it’s more. With zero revenue going through accounts, what’s going to happen to servers, bussers, bar tenders, chefs? Government intervention seems minimal, despite an unimaginable two trillion dollar headline. The net result in people’s wallets… $1200? How far will that go? How can legions of hospitality workers not find new employ in the currently safer venues of online/ordering/supply chain roles. An entire industry’s workforce is about to decamp en masse and might never come back.

What of restaurant’s bills. Rent, mortgage, insurance, equipment and more. Sure you can defray a little here and there, but even the likes of The Cheesecake Factory are crying poor – what chance of the small guy serving longer term in this climate.

And we’re only talking about the chance of restaurant’s being allowed to open here. What about consumer demand? Everyone is hurting, wallets and confidence are going to be threadbare. Six months from now if you’re eating out, are you splurging $60 on that steak, or do you have one eye on the possible Winter time return and repeat of all of this and go safe with the fast casual. Millennials were already choosing the latter before this began.

The fine dining sector of the restaurant industry was already feeling massive pressure from fast casuals. Younger diners demands were already remaking the industry in a new image. Whether you like that or not, that’s a fact.

How does the fine dining segment recover from this unique moment in history? I don’t know that most will. I hope my crystal ball is on the fritz.

Impending reality

Edit: I hold out hope for those trying to do something, to remain on the radars of consumers and to generate even a small trickle of revenue. Whether that’s through a radically remade family style menu or not – those trying something might have a chance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *