What does your restaurant business need to be ‘2021 ready’?

Written by: Gabrielle F. Mather, Founder & CEO of Restaurant Secrets Inc


From Lockdown, to second wave to a Covid vaccine on the horizon. The key word for 2021 is positive. ‘Opportunity’ for restaurateurs to evolve & improve their brands & products for that much needed prosperous season.

Menu engineeringRe-conceptualizing, strategizing new profit channels, recruiting the right talent, were some of the services most relevant to our clients during these last few months. What does your restaurant business need most to rise above 2020 & be ready for 2021?.

One positive by-product of COVID-19 for the F&B industry has been a significant focus on thinking out of the box. As our common nemesis the Covid19 virus, crashed the whole world together, it has pushed us all out of our comfort zones, with a new drive to overcome & survive.

I am seeing a refreshing renewed interest by clients to focus on the significantly vital pillars of the F&B model as well as emergence of a new breed of young entrepreneurial spirit, committed to bringing in a larger share of their presence not just their finances into opening F&B brands with focused offerings. Asking the key question How can I sustain in a cut-throat market? How can I make a difference? Why another restaurant?

Smart Operators have been gathering their strength, refusing to give up & have engaged us in more brand audits than we have ever done pre-2020. We’ve done more brand audits & operational analysis this last Quarter of 2020 than we’ve done in the last 2 years. With clients mainly from RAK, Abu Dhabi & Dubai, in that order.

KSA & Oman still remain emerging strong markets & as our clients wait for borders to open, we’ve continued building their deliverables, using technology like ‘virtual’ menu development trainings.

The right questions are being asked & focus is back again where it should be – product & people. Besides working on our core service of developing new turn-key concepts we have spent the most time since June 2020, helping clients get back on their feet by bringing a new perspective to  what’s cooking in their kitchens, what they are serving & why the right talent on board is worth the sustainability it brings. Especially in these times, these 2 resources – people & product have risen above the trends of Instagram-able marketing & hype at least for the high street mid-market brands that continue to satisfy a need to taste good & not just look good

I know I am joined my worthy colleagues in the industry in the belief that there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel: with all the financial & social initiatives being announced by the government in support of a vision of a tolerant & economically strong society, an upswing is coming our way in 2021, in which consumers will be more willing to spend across currently depressed categories, and our industry will benefit from in-bound investments. Expo 2020-21, Tourism being pulled in with Europe & US markets in their second wave, are all indicators of welcome peaks in our spending population.

My experience of the last recession of 2008 & this pandemic has strengthened my belief with numerous testimonies to prove that the F&B industry does not just survive, it can thrive in such times. More home-grown brands were born over the last decade than ever. We singularly helped create more than 300 concepts in the past 12 years. With this ‘market correction’ not just in F&B philosophy but more importantly in commercial standards finally coming to realistic margins, we can hope to see some smart operators making it bigger than before & new talent emerging with brands that are sustainable & relevant.

Here’s even better news. Those who’ve already positively & steadily worked on their business weaknesses in the last few months will see the rewards from their investment and this experience will stretch further their grit & resilience. And no matter where you are currently, it’s time to think success and use this time of recovery to lay down the F&B pillars that may be missing in your current business.

A wholistic approach is what we need under all circumstances, while in the valley or on the mountaintop. Those who’ve missed the benefits of ‘resetting’ the switch on their F&B model post lockdown, while our other clients (Utopia, That Cafe) invested in development programs with us, it’s still not too late. Use the first quarter wisely to set up for 2021 & the inevitable prosperity ahead of us. 

So how can your brand thrive in 2021? A  one-hour free consultation with me could help answer those crucial questions you’ve been asking yourself.