QSR January 2023

E D I T O R ’ S L E T T E R

Solutions, Not Resolutions Looking ahead, restaurants will grapple with years of change, and applications that bring it all together.

A s always this time of the year, con versations have turned to the future. Personally, I’m not a big resolutions fan. It doesn’t take me long to remember why I wasn’t doing something to begin with ( like jogging ). But in terms of restaurants, I’ve been charting prediction pieces for close to a decade. And as you might imagine, the first several years were tame in com parison to the past few. We’ve gone from themes like delivery and plant-based to trying to sort a revolution. This year, I crowdsourced some thoughts from Linke din. Here were some replies: MarkMoeller , a national restaurant consultant, believes the word of 2023 will be “transparency.” In his view: “As a guest we want to know where our food is coming from, we want to know that the team is being treated fairly and ethi cally, we want to know if the restaurant owner is truly invested in the community they serve.” The same, Moeller goes on, applies to employees believing their company’s ethos is more than lip service, as well as investors backing brands with purpose. LenaKatz , a content and creator strategy director at Ampersand, sees the convergence of AI/robotics and employ ees taking on a lasting form. Perhaps fewer employees, but better paid, and thus, tech that improves guest experience while maintaining a sustainable profit margin. One example she referenced was Which Wich’s YellowLab kiosks—an innovative spin that allows remote work ers ( or virtual cashiers ) to run the system. Restaurant coach and entrepreneur BryanMeredith projects a labor shift. “When the Fed wins and unemployment goes up, the labor pool will get better for restaurants and the real decisions will

have to be made with respect to staffing needs versus the path to automation,” he said. “Restaurateurs must figure out this dynamic and get a clear focus on how they want to run their business.” MeganGibson , brands account execu tive at Restaurant365, feels improving margins ( on the mind of all ) starts with eliminating outdated systems that run your back office. Toss the Excel spread sheets. Dynamic speed of service and dynamic pricing? Both came up. On the former, VP of digital at HMSHost, Neil Thompson , projects f lexible technology solutions that enable the guest to control the pace of their experience. Quick serves, he says, have become more about convenience than dine-in destinations. BrittanyMaroney , director of mar keting and communications at PAR Technology, envisions more expansion for restaurants into loyalty, using data to personalize and integration into online ordering and contactless payment. And lastly, is a shakeout in store? Mark Hutchings , who works with restaurants and bars at Statement Insurance Agency, believes so. “I see a new wave of closures in the post pandemic era. PPP and other programs that kept struggling locations af loat during the pandemic are winding down just as a recession is starting. … At the same time, surviving operators may finally see some labor relief as layoffs hit other industries and underperforming restaurants close.” In my view, I think 2023 is a year of recalibration as innova tion settles into application. From disrup tion to optimization, and beyond.


Danny Klein, Editorial Director



JANUARY 2023 | QSR | www.qsrmagazine.com

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