For the food and beverage industry, the past one-and-a-half years have been a make or break. Many fine dine-in restaurants have already closed their doors permanently, as well as bars, dance clubs, and pubs. Owners must face the constant challenge of changing dining restrictions and a major consumer shift toward take-outs and deliveries. But for first-time food entrepreneurs, these challenges are even harder to get around to.
Not only do they have limited capital, but first-time food entrepreneurs are also entering a market that used to be predictable. Today, even those who’ve been in the business for a long time are finding it hard to understand the emerging trend of house parties, drive-throughs, take-outs, and 24/7 deliveries. Without adapting to these new demands, restaurants will find themselves at the losing end of the pandemic and the economic woes it brings.
The Most Popular Food and Beverage Businesses During the Pandemic
What are some of the most popular food business ideas during the past one-and-a-half years? Cloud kitchens come at the top of everyone’s mind. These commercial kitchens produce food specifically for deliveries only. They have no dine-in areas, so the overhead costs are lower compared to actual restaurants. They have only several employees, so they can sell their meals for less than the price of an appetizer in a fine dine-in restaurant.
Another popular food business concept right now is food trays and caterers. Instead of the usual set-up where the catering service will stay in the venue to serve the food, customers buy food trays for their celebrations at home. From this, the idea of a grazing platter is also born. This is why many want to start a grazing board platter business. It is a large tray loaded with small bites of different cheeses, charcuterie, fruits, vegetables, olives, dips, spreads, biscuits, and chocolates.
If you are looking for a healthy food business, juicing and pre-packed diet meals can also be your thing. Health-conscious individuals lack access to healthy meals unless they prepare ones for themselves at home. But the selling point here is to offer convenience. If you can produce healthy meals and bottled fresh juices, you have a market waiting for you.
Long-time restaurant owners know too well about the importance of perception. This is what first-time food entrepreneurs need to learn. You are sure about your health and safety protocols, but are your customers aware of the protocols you follow in the kitchen? Do a video about what measures you’ve taken since the pandemic began or what you plan to do as you start this venture. Your customers must know what you’ve risked and invested in as the pandemic progresses.
Deliveries have become the saving grace of restaurants. The ideal scenario is for restaurants to have their own delivery systems, infrastructure, and riders. This removes the hefty fees from third-party apps and rider services. Plus, it’s easier for customers to have to deal with you directly. So, whether it’s a website, a phone, or social media, try to offer in-house delivery services.
This is, of course, a problem for startups because they don’t have the capital yet. You can partner instead with third-party apps and rider services. The core of every food business today is delivery, so this is non-negotiable.
Cost of Goods
In the restaurant industry, the profit margin is already slim. If you don’t know how much the goods cost, you don’t know if you’re selling your items at the right price. But because of the pandemic, it became hard for restaurant owners to determine how much ingredients cost on a specific day since most suppliers are not back in full swing yet. For first-time food entrepreneurs who haven’t yet established a relationship with suppliers, this is a major problem.
With dine-in services, there’s a chance to wow your customers with the restaurant’s ambiance, customer service, menu offerings, and interior design. The focus is not so much on the quality of the food. But because restaurant owners can no longer accommodate diners as many as they want, they have to be extra careful with the quality of their food. They must ensure that the food stays fresh for up to 40 minutes after the delivery time.
These aspects of the business will dictate whether it will succeed in the “new normal.” Even without the pandemic, delivery, perception, cost of goods, and quality of food are all important factors for a food business to thrive. First-time food entrepreneurs have a lot more challenges to face, though.