Hospitality News December Edition

ELEVATED WAGES HAVE PUSHED RESTAURANTS TO FURTHER STREAMLINE OPERATIONS The U.S. just added 263,000 jobs in November, leaving an unchanged unemployment rate of 3.7% (Bartash, 2022). The combined effects of a tight labor market and high inflation have resulted in a sharp rise in wages, pushing the average hourly wage to $32.82. It becomes almost impossible for food service operators to keep up with the wage hikes. The good news is our food service providers have come up with several solutions to streamline operations.

Restaurants rolled out new store design plans As an immediate response to consumer demands for contactless, self-services during the pandemic, many restaurants expanded their curbside pickup and delivery services. Panera Bread and Taco Bell, among others, quickly rolled out new and often smaller store designs with more drive-thru lanes, less seating, and more contactless digital service (Lucas, 2021). Modeling a ghost kitchen concept, Chipotle opened its Digital Kitchen back in 2020, only providing off-premises orders and food pickup (Park, 2020).

Finally, the biggest restaurant chain, McDonald’s, just opened a test restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas (McDon- ald’s, 2022). This new restaurant is smaller and designed for customers who are “on the move.” Some new features include:

• A separate “Order Ahead (drive-thru) Lane” with a food and beverage conveyor belt. • A delivery pickup room for couriers, allowing for quicker and more convenient service. • Designated parking spaces for curbside pickup customers and delivery drivers. • Pickup shelf for dine-in orders. Automation helps

While it is challenging to keep the soaring labor costs under control, restaurants find solutions through better use of technology. McDonald’s streamlines its new restaurant’s operations through enhanced location-based tech- nology, app updates, the introduction of conveyor belts, and a new kitchen format. The goal is to provide a faster, better, and seamless experience for both consumers and crew. With new store designs and enhanced technology, restaurants can improve productivity and rely less on labor. What other innovative ideas have you seen from the food service and restaurant industry to cope with the chal- lenge of elevated wages?

Bartash, J. (2022, December 2). U.S. adds 263,000 jobs in November and wage rise sharply – for too much for the Fed’s liking. Available at liking-11669988407 Lucas, A. (2021, May 20). Panera Bread’s new design transforms it into a neighborhood bakery in a bid to build loyalty. CNBC. Available at McDonald’s (2022, December 1). 5 things to know about McDonald’s new test restaurant in Texas. Available at https://corpo- Park, S. (2020, November 11). Chipotle opens its first digital-only restaurant. Fox Business. Available at chipotle-opens-first-digital-only-restaurant


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