National Restaurants Are Transforming Into Makeshift Grocers To Survive During The Coronavirus

Despite the fact that fast food and fast-casual restaurants are still operational thanks to various state measures country-wide that allow them to continue to serve take-out during the coronavirus quarantine, eateries are still being hit hard — with an increasing number of people adapting to a world in which most of their meals are made at home. According to the market research company NPD Group, total restaurant transactions are down by 42% compared to this the same week last year. And considering that we’re far from out of the weeds with this whole coronavirus thing, it’s likely that those trends will continue.

Throughout the shutdown, we’ve covered the innovative ways chefs and restaurants are adapting to the changing buying habits of the American dining public. Many independent restaurants have already cycled through multiple iterations — going from takeout service to delivery to meal kits. Now it looks like national chains like California Pizza Kitchen, Panera Bread, and Subway are following suit.

According to Food & Wine, since Monday of this week, Panera has been offering online orders of bread, milk, or produce products from their stock for pickup or delivery. California Pizza Kitchen is also selling basics like milk, flour, dry pasta, meat, beer, snacks, and other pantry items through what they are calling the CPK Market, which also sells meal kits and “build your own” pizzas. Across California, Connecticut, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington, Subway locations are selling bread rolls, 2-pound packs of their deli meats, and produce.

Will any of this work? Who knows. It’s a new world for the restaurant industry and uncertainly looms over every decision. We’re fully in the era of throwing things at the wall and hoping it works.