Now more than ever, the restaurant industry is urged to address ways to incorporate sustainability in environmental and business practices. Restaurant sustainability refers to operating to protect the natural environment, promote social equity within the community, and contribute to economic prosperity. As owners go back to the drawing board following the crushing effects of the pandemic on the industry, some have adopted several key implementations to become more self-sustaining businesses all around.
According to Business Insider, more than 17% of American restaurants have closed since the start of the pandemic. Those resilient enough to survive have had to restart their business from the ground up and make changes to provide themselves with more sustainable and economically viable operation methods. These changes include launching new food delivery and take away services, lowering labor costs, composting or food donation programs, more outdoor seating, contactless tech adoption, and proper accounting techniques.
In addition to new food delivery and take away services, some owners saw unique opportunities to maximize profits.
These opportunities included:
- Meal kits
- Selling individual stock ingredients
- More straightforward recipes
- More vegan and vegetarian options
- Support of local farmers
- Onsite herb gardens
- Food donations and composting projects
Additionally, transitioning to streamlined menus reduces staffing requirements, ultimately saving restaurants in labor costs, and providing adaptability in a labor shortage market. The best way to be sustainable is on the menu.
The restaurant industry experienced a consumer behavior change during the pandemic. Customers became more health-conscious eating more organic, vegan, and vegetarian options. This even brought some owners to shift their brand to meatless menus completely. According to Nielson IQ, about three out of every four millennials and Gen Z consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products and services.
“The restaurant industry is facing many challenges today, including slowing growth, high operating costs, employee recruitment, and retention, and the need to attract a younger demographic customer. A corporate commitment to sustainability for a restaurant business seems like it should be a no-brainer, as it directly addresses each of these issues.” – Environment + Energy Leader