1. Keep an eye on the Trends…

Dark, cloud and ghost kitchens and virtual brands: these are relatively new and similar F&B concepts that are here to stay, since the pandemic has accelerated all things off-premise. In this age of lockdown, opening a dark kitchen could be the best option to test a new brand or simply to support your delivery model. Due to the smoother operations and brand positioning within target segments, this new business model has a greater guest reach [1]. Maybe the different terms (dark, cloud, ghost…) could give you a headache, so please read our previous article   The Definitive Guide to Ghost Restaurants & Dark Kitchens  where we explain the differences between them.

2. …and Sub-Trends!

An increase in a delivery and virtual business model shifts the brand focus. Guest experience is minimal so brands have realised that packaging has now become the main way to establish contact with its guests. Apart from the basics of using environmentally friendly, sustainable materials, the creativity and design of the touchpoints, it now plays a much bigger role which can extend and bring some if the dine-in experience to the comfort of the guest’s sofa. This way brands can increase their guest engagement and profits through this channel which has  become essential over this past year.  Sugarfish  is a great example of minimal yet elegant packaging. 

3. Cross-training

This practice has been more common in franchises, but any restaurant should consider the clear benefits to both the business and its employees. 

Forbes lists five advantages of cross-training in business which are  completely relevant to the restaurant industry [2]: 

  • Durability: your brand is more sustainable if more than one person knows how to handle a certain area.
  • Agility: develop  your employee skillset, making the workforce more agile.
  • Flexibility: your best waiter just called in sick? No problem! With a little reshuffling, you should be well covered.
  • Efficiency: processes are refined, since everyone is teaching and learning other skills.
  • Teamwork: this type of training nurtures employee relationships that otherwise may have never bloomed.

4. Seize the Dayparts

Bars and dine-in concepts are the segments that have been most heavily affected by the pandemic, so some have turned to the creative task of transforming their business, incorporating flexible menu items that work for breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night and everything in-between. Our CEO,  Benjamin Calleja, explained this further: “A common mistake when expanding an F&B brand to multiple dayparts is the lack of menu optimization. By adding new options, a brand must definitely reevaluate which old menu items must go.” Adaptation and survival of the fittest certainly apply to dishes as well, and we must not forget: less is more.

5. Don’t separate Guest Experience from Financial results

At Livit, we  believe in a 360º guest experience. In our  restaurant V, we pay attention to even the smallest detail, from designing the weight of our knives to the texture of our napkins, and it is exactly this level of detail which elevates our guest value perception. That doesn’t necessarily mean that your brand should spend millions to elevate its value. A remodel strategy with different levels of investment should be designed and tested.  Pedro Corbalán, one of our Experience Architects and one of the leaders of our Co-Creative Team, has a great piece of advice in this matter: “Reevaluating your sourcing and supply chain can be a great opportunity for improvement for brands. How can you be sure you’re offering the best options to your guests, the ones that relate best to your concept, if you continue to get say, your furniture from the easiest supplier? Get out there and find the perfect option, one that boosts your guest experience and also keeps you within your budget”.

6. Testing 1-2-3!

How can you be really certain about your next store location? Simple, test the water first! A dark kitchen might be a first step into conquering new territory, but there is no limit to your creativity. Famous DC-based  &pizza  is reaching new places thanks to a partnership with  Zume’s Forward Mobile Kitchens. These are more than just food trucks, Zume’s mobile kitchens appliances are software-connected and its infrastructure offers predictive analysis tools… not bad for a practice run! 

7. Tap into Developments from Other Industries

Look outside our industry. LA’s  Cloud Kitchens  had an excellent idea last year: why not transform underground parking lots into shared dark kitchens? As cities shift the transport focus to public options, bikes and shared rides, certainly parking lots will need less and less space. Their CEO, Travis Kalanick, tweeted: “There are over $10 trillion in these real estate assets that will need to be repurposed for the digital era in the coming years.” [3]

Reinvention comes first, stagnation last. To be able to boost profitability during these strenuous times (and let’s be honest), your brand must be able to surf the flowing trends of its industry, while keeping an eye on developments from elsewhere. Surround it with a 360º guest experience and voilà!

[1] The Kitchen Multiverse, Medium https://medium.com/@ACV_VC/the-kitchen-multiverse-d360414e3bdd

[2] Cross-Training: Your Best Defense Against Indispensable Employees, Forbes https://www.forbes.com/sites/chriscancialosi/2014/09/15/cross-training-your-best-defense-against-indispensable-employees/#1111b96e7d90

[3] Fast Company, https://www.fastcompany.com/90368744/we-can-build-our-cities-for-e-commerce-we-just-need-to-repurpose-our-parking-lots