Restaurants Enjoy Start of Post-Reopening Boom

March 16, 2021
Barbara Castiglia

Food is serious business. Now, on The Main Course, host Barbara Castiglia will invite insiders on the front lines of food to share their expertise, strategies, and forecasts for navigating the ever-changing restaurant industry.


The Main Course always has a pulse on what’s next for the restaurant industry. For a look at the restaurant industry outlook for 2021, host Barbara Castiglia spoke with Cristin O’Hara, Managing Director, Restaurant Group, at Bank of America.

“The second half of the year could see strong GDP growth, as people become more comfortable with returning to restaurants and the takeout business continues to soar” – Cristin O’Hara

O’Hara started with some good news. “There is enthusiasm and positivity that the industry is turning the corner. The second half of the year could see strong GDP growth, as people become more comfortable with returning to restaurants and the takeout business continues to soar.”

Some of that bounce back is already evident. “In some cases, same-store sales and margins are very good. Events are happening this year that didn’t last year, which makes people want to celebrate and order food,” O’Hara said.

Looking at trends and what may stay around post-pandemic, O’Hara spoke about technology’s role in delivering convenience to the diner. It also provides intelligence to restaurants, which allows them to be smarter in decision-making.

While QSRs have grown, primarily due to drive-thrus, and fast casuals are coming back, O’Hara believes fine dining will be the last to emerge from the pandemic. “They depend on business travel and entertainment, which isn’t coming back yet,” she added.

Overall, she thinks the demand for dining out will grow as it becomes safer. The key for all restaurants will be getting throughput to align with demand, managing labor needs, and being prepared for changes in pricing in costs of goods. “Digitization has a lot to do with the management of these categories.”

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