Restaurants — both chain operations and individual establishments — change all the time, evolving, modernizing, pivoting in response to the introduction of new culinary products or cooking techniques, improved technology, and of course changing consumer tastes. For once-popular menu items that are disappearing fast, see our list of retro restaurant dishes we might never see again.)
The food service landscape has been transformed particularly dramatically since early last year, of course, as the restaurant industry has had to deal with a multitude of changes and challenges brought on by the advent of COVID-19. Establishments introduced simplified menus, outdoor dining pods, new take-out and delivery, and more in their efforts to stay afloat. It didn’t always work, of course. These are the saddest restaurant closings of 2020.
Some of the changes benefit diners in obvious ways. It’s nice to be able to take home a cocktail or two when you pick up your to-go order, for instance, and if the snooty attitude some places project at the front door disappears, it’ll make the dining experience more enjoyable.
Other changes will be less welcome, maybe chief among them the fact that eating places are finding it harder, for a variety of reasons, to hire good cooks and servers. That means menu choices might be limited, and food will take longer getting to the table.
24/7 Tempo has assembled a list of 20 ways in which the pandemic and other recent influences have altered restaurants, quite possibly for good. The list is culled from a report called “Restaurant Industry 2030: Actionable Insights for the Future” prepared last year by the National Restaurant Association in partnership with American Express and Nestlé Professional, and from news stories and analyses in other food service trade publications, including Restaurant Business, QSR Magazine, and FSR Magazine, as well as from the New York Times.