COVID-19 / Interviews

Interview with Sam Zietz of GRUBBRR on What’s Next for Restaurant Industry

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Restaurants in our area continue to be closed to dine-in customers which is impacting restaurant sales and the livelihood of restaurant workers.

I connected with Sam Zietz, CEO of GRUBBRR, a restaurant business automation platform, on what’s next for the industry and how restaurants can take advantage of technology in order to survive.

Philly Grub: Can you speak about the future of restaurants post-COVID-19 and how restaurants will need to adapt.

Sam Zietz: Unfortunately, many restaurants will likely not survive the coronavirus pandemic. We will see some favorites close their doors with other new concepts popping up around the country. I believe traffic will be slow to return to full-service restaurants and they will have to set tables further apart to meet social distancing guidelines. We believe we will see the beginning of the end of the cashier, much like how ticketing agents at airports and tellers at banks have disappeared. Self-ordering technology like kiosks, online ordering, and mobile ordering will replace them and help alleviate consumer concerns of social distancing.

PG: Can you speak to how restaurants are using technology now to stay afloat.

SZ: Social distancing will last beyond COVID-19 as people will remain fearful of getting too close to others. We’ve already seen contact-free ordering systems take off, and this will continue. At GRUBBRR, we used to think it would take between two and five years for payment and ordering kiosks to gain popularity, but due to COVID-19, we are seeing that this is happening right now. Also, a kiosk doesn’t mean you necessarily have to touch it, thanks to some of the technologies we’ve introduced. Customers who want to use a self-ordering kiosk can simply launch their phone camera and scan a QR code, which will enable them to order from their phones. These innovations are changing the way restaurants can meet changes in demand, adhere to government guidelines, and survive industry shifts.

PG: Talk about opportunities for furloughed/laid off restaurant staff including where they can go next.

SZ: Coronavirus-related closures and drops in demand have forced many restaurants to lay off or furlough staff. Workers who find themselves in these positions – especially those who were employed as cashiers or waiters – can transfer their skills to other, similar roles. New roles such as kiosk concierges to assist consumers with any questions, provide samples and clean common areas in the restaurant to ensure consumer fears of cleanliness are addressed. Restaurants can redeploy cashiers as delivery drivers as increased demand for carryout and delivery will become the norm. By converting employees to delivery drivers restaurants will avoid larger fees they pay when they utilize third party delivery services such as Uber Eats.

Visit GRUBBRR’s website for more information on their suite of technology solutions for restaurants.

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