A server holds two dishes on one arm.

The COVID-19 pandemic will lead to fundamental changes to the restaurant industry – some of which were well overdue, says a University of Guelph food industry expert.

Prof. Mike von Massow, a food economist in U of G’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics, studies the structure and performance of food supply chains.

He says the pandemic crisis has hurt the entire restaurant industry, and summertime patio visitors and take-out patrons may not be enough to keep them afloat in the long term. That’s why he’s predicting several changes ahead.

Prof. Mike von MassowIn a recent post to his Food Focus blog, he said the first change he expects to see is higher menu prices. Von Massow has argued that restaurant food has long been underpriced.

With most restaurants now facing increased costs from reduced seating capacity as well as extra sanitation measures, von Massow expects to see many outlets begin to start charging more for their menu items.

Table reservations may also change, to ensure that customers arrive when scheduled. Given that reservation no-shows mean lost revenue in a limited seating capacity model, some restaurants may begin to sell “tickets” for meals or perhaps request deposits at reservation time.

To reduce labour costs, some outlets may choose to offer tablets for self-serve ordering, eliminate positions or have staff perform double duties.

Von Massow can discuss these suggestions and more and is available for interviews.


Prof. Michael von Massow