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Coronavirus is being devastating to the food industry

Many restaurants are closing, others are seeing unprecedented drops in reservations.

BY RSVP March 13,2020



Restaurants around the world have experienced dramatic drop-offs in customer traffic. Of all the industries threatened by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, few have felt the impact as deeply as the food industry. 

As fear about the risk of coronavirus spreads, many local restaurants are seeing an impact on their bottom lines, especially due to canceled private events and large group reservations. Many restaurants saw 30-40% of their reservations canceled. Other restaurants have completely closed temporarily, until further notice, especially restaurants in Italy. 

Even though the business has been noticeably slower, restaurants are taking extra precautions to educate and protect their staff, including stocking up on disinfection wipes and hand sanitizer, talking about prevention before service and emailing articles and up-to-date information. At Michelin-starred restaurants, where waiters usually fold diners' napkins when they get up from tables, they're instead replacing the napkins with new ones to minimize contact.

And the economic effects are greater than just restaurants. It is affecting farmers and farmers markets.

One of the most award-winning restaurants in the US turned to a drive-thru. Seattle fine-dining restaurant Canlis, the 68-year-old restaurant, is pivoting its entire business model: temporarily closing its dining room and offering instead three new virtual restaurants: bagels to-go in the morning, burgers and sandwiches available via a drive-thru in the afternoon and meal delivery in the evening.