The pandemic changed everything and the restaurant industry was hit hard, perhaps harder than any other industry. So as we move into a restaurant’s post-pandemic world, how has the industry evolved? And what steps can business owners take in response to that evolution?

While much remains uncertain, looking at the available data can be helpful in planning out a post-pandemic growth strategy. In that vein, here’s a selection of restaurant statistics illustrating a post-pandemic world.

The Ever-Connected World

The world of the restaurant has changed a lot during the pandemic, but almost paradoxically, the demands of the consumer did not. In fact, many people kept up their usual restaurant food habits – by switching from in-person dining to a delivery model. 

The younger the demographic, the more pronounced the change. But as restrictions lift, those new habits might not change. 

In fact, for the 18-34 demographic, only 50% intended to reduce the amount of delivery orders they were taking in. These online food delivery statistics are striking, and you’ll need to keep them in mind.

When people started to rely on food delivery software over an in-person experience, restaurants responded to fill demand. Currently, 78% of restaurants in the United States have taken this route, adding in some kind of contactless dining experience, food delivery software, or both. 

Now, many businesses have the ability to fulfill orders at a distance. Those technologies are expected to become a mainstay of restaurants, post-pandemic.

One article offers a quote from a major player at Subway, speaking on this very issue. 

Third-party delivery sales have continued to climb even during the summer months when restrictions were relaxed or removed,” says Renee Hourigan, senior director of off-premises innovation for Subway. “Based on that, I expect all of our convenience channels will continue to grow even when the pandemic has passed.”


The Return of Dine-In

With 27% of diners returning to restaurants in 2022 in the United States, the dine-in business is going to increase and make up a significant revenue stream in the hospitality industry. 

So, what will make customers choose another business over yours? 

Perhaps contradictory to what you may expect, food safety reputation accounted for only 10% of deterred customers. Instead, the biggest factor by far was “the establishment’s physical layout”, clocking in at 26%. Some environments are just better suited to keeping people away from pandemic concerns, and if you’re looking to draw people back in, it could be worth investing in a space that makes people feel as safe as possible. You can read the full study here.

Taking Action

The industry’s accelerated focus on the online realm is evident. If customers continue to hold digital storefronts in high regard, you’ll have to share that enthusiasm. Create a digital platform for your brand – either from scratch, or by finding a tried-and-tested platform that can build an environment for you.

Secondly, you don’t have to be the only one using this platform regularly. With User Generated Content, you can forge a more authentic connection with your customers, and speak to them on this new digital playing field. Plus, it’s a cost-saving measure – letting your customers engage in marketing, and letting you focus on more pressing restaurant expenses.

Finally, you can apply those digital lessons to your in-person dining experience. There’s a lot of places where technological integration can help out, even for customers who prefer to dine-in. Collect data on your customer’s habits, and use them to your advantage. Establish a stronger communication network between employees. Integrate more contactless dining tools. The possibilities are as endless as the digital world itself.

About Smooth Commerce

Smooth Commerce is an all-in-one digital commerce and customer marketing platform for restaurants that combines online and mobile ordering, delivery, loyalty, and powerful marketing tools to help you grow your business, while giving you access to your customer data to help grow your restaurant. 

If you would like to learn more or talk to a representative from Smooth Commerce about how our platform can help you meet your loyalty goals, contact us at