Star Tribune: 80 Percent of US Consumers Have Anxiety About Indoor Dining

The restaurant industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, and potentially a third of restaurants in the U.S. will close their doors by the end of the year. Fortunately, some are succeeding and finding new opportunities amidst Covid-19 restriction.

According to McKinsey More than 80 percent of US consumers have anxiety about dining in at casual and quick-service restaurants. But nearly 50 percent feel fine about picking up fast food from a drive-through.

Fast-casual restaurants with established takeout and delivery had the starting advantage, but others have managed to innovate and adapt during the pandemic, not only to survive, but to thrive.Chipotle Mexican Grill didn’t have far to pivot

Chipotle Mexican Grill, with over 2,600 U.S. locations, has done well this year in the fast-casual restaurant space. As one of the first major restaurant brands to adopt mobile ordering in 2008, they were well-positioned to focus on digital ordering, pickup, and delivery when dining rooms closed down earlier this year.

Despite a drop of 10% in overall sales in the second quarter of 2020, digital sales rose by 216%, and now makeup over 60% of total sales. By the end of July, Chipotle had reopened 85% of its restaurants for in-person dining with Covid-19 protocols in place, bringing same-store monthly sales up by 9.8% over 2019.Off-premises dining

A few years ago, Chipotle began adding second make-lines to its restaurants to exclusively fill digital orders, allowing the other line to focus on in-person and phone orders. For delivery, the chain works with third-party delivery services including GrubHub, Postmates, and DoorDash, and also offers some menu items exclusively for orders placed through their app to increase online engagement and direct delivery.

Dozens of stores now also include Chipotlanes, which are used strictly for drive-thru pickup of online orders. 

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