Will Dining Change in 2021? Here’s Our Predictions

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Will Dining Change in 2021? Here’s Our Predictions


There’s one thing everyone can agree on—2020 has been a year of radical changes for the hospitality industry. From lockdowns, to capacity limits, to the world’s newfound appreciation for outdoor dining, almost nothing looks the same as it did a year ago. Thankfully, restaurants have pivoted, adapted, and found creative ways to keep their customers and staff safe—all while continuing to provide delicious food and memorable experiences. 

As this year comes to a close, what should you expect for the restaurant industry in 2021? 

We don’t have a crystal ball, but we do have a few predictions. It’s safe to say that dining will continue to change in the year ahead, so let’s take a look at a few possible outcomes.  

Restrictions Won’t Be a Thing of the Past

As much as we wish could leave patron limits, mandated closures, and restricted hours of operation in 2020, the reality is these measures will likely remain in place for at least for the first few months of 2021. Though restrictions will continue to be determined by individual states, almost every corner of the nation is heading into the new year with at least some rules still in place.  

Although this is undeniably bad news for businesses, it’s helpful to remember that these restrictions won’t last forever. For restaurants in regions with strict rules, the most important thing will be to find ways to ensure your restaurant survives the winter. Take a look at these tips for surviving the first quarter of 2021:

  • Continue to Focus on Delivery & Take-Out: You’ve probably already pivoted your business to emphasize to-go options, but it’s crucial to keep finding ways to improve and innovate. Even if your area still allows customers to dine-in, don’t stop focusing on take-out and delivery. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that these options won’t be limited in 2021 (regardless of what happens to in-person options).
  • Find Ways to Cut Costs: Your restaurant might be looking at a few lean months, so it’s crucial to find ways to save money where you can. This might mean paring down your menu or switching to a more affordable POS
  • Support Your Staff: Unfortunately, unemployment will continue to be a grim reality for many industry workers in the year ahead. If you’ve had to lay-off staff, cut hours, or reduce wages, you can still find ways to support the people who represent the backbone of your business. Many restaurants are re-introducing fundraising programs as lockdowns are going back into effect, and there are many resources you can point your staff towards to help them weather the storm. 

Re-Opening Will be Slow and Steady

Another thing we can learn from 2020 is that re-opening usually doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, many states will most likely ease restrictions gradually. For states with the toughest restrictions, re-opening might look something like this:

  • Indoor dining is allowed at limited capacity (25%, 50%, or 75%)
  • Bar seating is re-introduced
  • Limits on table sizes are eased
  • Food sales are no longer required to purchase alcohol
  • Bars and restaurants are allowed to offer late-night service
  • Restaurants no longer have to check temperatures and record contact information

As we said, there’s no way to know exactly when these things will occur, but we feel confident that they will begin to happen eventually. It’s important to remember that even as restrictions are eased, some customers won’t feel comfortable returning to ‘normal’ right away, so it’s important to plan accordingly. 

Make sure your staff is aware of new developments and keep your purveyors up to date on your inventory needs. As things open up, you don’t want to find yourself short-staffed or without enough fresh ingredients. 

There’s a Light at the End of the Tunnel

The first few months of 2021 are going to be tough, but better days are ahead. Although getting restaurants back on their feet will take time, we have two main reasons to believe the restaurant world has something to look forward to in 2021:

  • Vaccine and Treatment Development: As the country begins rolling out an effective vaccine and medical treatment for COVID improves, it looks like the process of getting back to normal is already underway. Going forward, restaurant owners should continue to rely on guidance from the medical community and the government to determine the best ways to keep everyone safe. 
  • Winter Always Passes: In cold climates, winter doesn’t bode well for outdoor dining. The good news is, winter doesn’t last forever. When temperatures rise in the spring of 2021, outdoor dining will start to look a lot more promising. The even better news is, many restaurants won’t have to start their outdoor dining programs from scratch as they did in 2020—which will make offering a great outdoor experience easier and more affordable. 

No Matter What the New Year Holds, We’re in This Together

There’s one thing we know isn’t going to change in 2021—our commitment to providing restaurants with the tools they need to succeed in these difficult times. At Adora, we’re here 24/7 to help you with everything your business needs to make the most of 2021. Our goal is to make adapting easier, and we’ll be there for your business no matter what the year ahead has in store. 

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