by Bob Gershberg, CEO/Managing Partner Wray Executive Search
This past year has brought many permanent closures to the US restaurant industry with estimates of about 18% and counting. Independent concepts have, indeed, suffered disproportionately. So many trends have advanced at lightspeed due to the pandemic. Digital menu/ordering, contactless payment, ghost kitchens, virtual concepts and off-premise have grown and will continue to exponentially. Online booking is slated to hit 90% by the end of 2021.The good news is we are seeing strong signs of pent-up demand. Many leaders in the industry believe as dining rooms open to full capacity sales will be stronger than ever.
Value will remain critical particularly during the 1st quarter to 1st half of the year. Real estate opportunities for those who have weathered the storm will be substantive. Heck, it has been a long time since we have seen a buyer’s market.
Sheila Bennett is Executive Director of CORE - Children of Restaurant Employees - a non-profit that offers monetary grants and support for restaurant employees with children affected by a medical crisis or natural disaster. CORE grants help restaurant employees to cover housing expenses and other basic needs to help them get through the crisis. The non-profit quickly grew in 2020 to meet the burgeoning needs of restaurant employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or dealing with its related impacts of quarantines and displacement.
What is new with CORE with its outreach to restaurant employee families in need and its fundraising efforts?
In 2020, CORE was able to help 542 families, which is five times the number of families we supported compared to 2019. Ideally, I would like to double this amount in 2021. We have now granted to all 50 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. We are proud that were able to meet the rise in need due to the generous contributions of our corporate partners such as Barefoot Wines EJ Gallo, Jose Cuervo Tequila, Patrón and Tito’s Handmade Vodka as well as track and measure our progress. While we have established a conservative goal to raise $3.1m for 2021, the demand will be much greater as the visibility of CORE increases. I believe that we will be able to raise more funds if we can engage the supplier community for robust partnerships.