Fast Casual restaurants rode the wave of the pandemic better than most
November 25, 2022

Let’s take a trip back into the past. Two years ago, the world was starting to assess what the now future pandemic would look like, and how it would affect them. The food and beverage sector, moreso, knew that this had the potential to disrupt their daily operations. 


The inevitable happened. 


Lockdowns. Closures. Businesses and their life source dried up overnight. Indeed, delivery was popular but how could food be delivered when everyone was required to stay at home?  


What changed?


Simply put, fast casual restaurants found a way to deliver for their customers, online, again. The demand for food and food delivery services did not cease to exist overnight, only the ability to access did. Delivery orders were growing at a rate of 9% year on year in Manila, and revenue increased by $111 million during the 2020 to 2021 lockdown periods. The end result not only galvanised the fast casual sector, but also increased stability and optimism throughout. New strategies and tech innovations were, and continue to, help fast-casual restaurants disrupt the big players once more. 


When dining rooms and pick-up abilities remained temporarily closed, fast casuals were enamoured and able to engineer a multitude of marketplace-aided processes that were previously disregarded or palmed off previously (hello curbside pickup and the renaissance of drive-thru!). 


Loyalty was an addition that assisted many fast casuals in Manila to gain traction on aggregator platforms, like GrabFood and FoodPanda, but also keep them at the top of their game and ahead of their competitors. This keeps the customer funnel open and allows for continuous discounting, coupons, or loyalty programs, as quoted by Arthur Fernandez of JCurve Solutions, who continued by saying that ‘the ability to control the entire customer experience is only a good thing for enhancing customer loyalty’ 


This disruption has evolved into an exciting time for the industry because fast casual restaurants have more access to technology than ever before. Whether it be food aggregators, the ability to develop their own app or online store, develop a new concept through a ghost kitchen or virtual brand, the superpower fast casuals have now is the ability to combine convenience, price, and experience, when they couldn’t have done before. Having a new, multi-channel world in a fast casual restaurant has shown that evolution can occur to open more doors and cease fast casuals reliance on city markets alone. 


Regardless of where fast casual restaurants take their consumers, the challenge of restaurant labor will be a battleground for many of these restaurants. With eased restrictions, there is possibly a prevalence of more community transmission, hurting small operators with labor availability. It’s why aggregators like klikit offer better management software for the multitude of online channels, where the mismanagement disaster of incoming orders can be controlled. Wages are increasing, but that doesn’t mean that restaurant owners can’t invest in new technologies. 


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