Jim Tyson | May 6, 2021
Restaurants lost $270 billion last year from coronavirus shutdowns, and many of those that survived the crisis did so in a sink-or-swim frenzy.
Now, as the economy begins to surge, surviving restaurants are getting ready to ride a rising tide of customer demand.
The economy grew at a 6.4 annual pace during the first quarter and sales at restaurants and bars shot up 13.4% in March compared with February, according to the Commerce Department. Consumer confidence rose in April to the highest level since February 2020, stoked by $1,400 federal stimulus checks and pent-up demand from months of stuck-at-home frugality.
Restaurant CFOs are preparing for a surge in warm-weather customers as vaccinations spread and businesses reopen. They are bolstering inventory, improving scenario planning, lining up back-up vendors, exploring consolidation and ensuring access to capital in the event of another setback such as a new wave of infections.
The CFOs are also testing the durability of pandemic-induced changes to their business models, including restaurant lay-out, use of new automation and greater reliance on take-out and delivery.