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The Quarterly Canadian Restaurant Intelligence Report

Rapid Recovery Series: Session #1 – COVID-19 Impact and Industry Outlook


The impact of COVID-19 on the foodservice and hospitality industry cannot be understated. As restrictions begin to ease across Canada, operators are still left with more challenges ahead of them. This is why Restaurants Canada launched the Rapid Recovery Series.

From June 9th – 11th, operators, and suppliers were invited to join a series of free webinars that tackled some of the most pressing issues affecting the foodservice industry including:

The Rapid Recovery Series also featured an exclusive CEO Panel that spoke to the future of foodservice, provided leadership insights, and ideas for reinvention to help foodservice operators move forward in the next normal.

The objective of this Series was to empower industry professionals with the expertise and knowledge from industry leaders needed to recover from the pandemic, reopen with confidence, and help to rebuild their communities.

Bringing this series to life in MENU, we’re providing some of the key takeaways, top highlights, and actionable insights from all 10 of the sessions of the Rapid Recovery Series. This article is #1 of 10 sessions that will be released throughout the month of July.

While MENU has put together this digestible view of each session, you can find recordings for all sessions as well as the Rapid Recovery Guide here.

Session #1: COVID-19 Impact and Industry Outlook

Kicking off the Rapid Recovery Series, Session #1 saw Restaurants Canada CEO & President Shanna Munro and Senior Economist Chris Elliot joining Ipsos’ Vice President, Asad Amin as well as The Fifteen Group’s Vice President, Eastern Operations,  Jenny Companion.

Presented by The Fifteen Group, this session took a deep dive into what the current economic landscape looks like, what the consumer mindset is, and an overview into how operators not just responded to the pandemic, but also how they can continue to adapt and pivot as we move forward.

What does the economic landscape look like for foodservice?

  • Commercial food sales dropped from over $6 billion to $3.98 billion in March 2020
  • Drinking places saw a 58.8% drop in commercial food sales in March 2020
  • 44% of operators polled said the reduction in capacity has had a negative effect on sales, compared to 35% who said it had a positive effect and 21% who said it’s too early to tell
  • We’re seeing a slow, tepid recovery and facing many unknowns and uncertainty – scalability is key 
  • Contactless delivery and payment will still be in demand going forward; among operators polled, contactless payment, curbside delivery/contactless delivery, as well as simplified or reduced menu offerings top the list of services they will continue to provide post-lockdown

What is the consumer mindset?

  • From April 2019 to April 2020, drive-thru usage grew by 22%, whereas dine-in shrunk by 32%
  • Looking at consumer confidence, 63% of Canadians state that they are ‘cautious’ when it comes to enjoying activities
  • It’s not all doom and gloom though, 43% are ‘optimistic’ that they will enjoy life more than ever “once the crisis ends”
  • 65% of consumers “believe restaurants are doing everything they can to prevent the spread of COVID-19”

Thinking about how you engage consumers going forward – whether through marketing or their overall experience, there are a few stats to keep in mind:

  • 48% of consumers say that “restaurant cleanliness and food safety will matter more to me after COVID-19”
  • 45% will “seek delivery or takeout from restaurants that provide tamper-proof packaging”
  • 48% of consumers will “support local restaurants and brands more”

How can operators prepare for the ‘new normal’?

The Fifteen Group outlined six key areas for operators to consider as they think about how they will prepare for the ‘new normal’: financials, your new menu, space & atmosphere, operations, staff & service, and your guests. While you can review the entire presentation from Jenny Companion and the team at, here are a few pieces of actionable advice to take into account as you prep to reopen:

  • Will your hours of operation adjust?
  • What items can you produce with minimal staff?
  • Do your menu items hold up in delivery?
  • Can you provide signage for both consumers and staff in order to direct proper and safe use of the physical space
  • Have a checklist for daily practices and procedures
  • Ensure you implement proper staff training 

This is article #1 of 10 covering the Rapid Recovery Series. Stay tuned for session #2!

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The Quarterly Canadian Restaurant Intelligence Report