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What’s New In Food? Coronavirus Response Part 2

Now is the time to do everything you can to support your local restaurants. In an effort to stay afloat during the Coronavirus crisis, foodservice workers are getting creative but also taking major risks. You can help them drive their business by ordering take out or lunch for your employee’s home office, buying gift cards and more. Hear Kevin’s thoughts on the current state of the industry and how you can help. 

Full Transcript

What’s new in food?

What’s new in food? Well, the coronavirus is still wreaking absolute havoc on the food service industry. The hits just feel like they keep on coming. I heard about 3,500 furloughs just before I came out to lunch today. Obviously, there are more offices closing. Obviously, cities are going on lockdown. People are going into the office less and less and less. There’s less traffic out driving business into some of these great restaurants, and it feels like just the bad news keeps on coming and coming and coming.

I want to make sure, I want to talk about a couple of important things today. First and foremost, I didn’t do it in my last video, I’m going to do it in this video. But if you look behind me, you can see some of the folks that are actually out here serving and taking orders, and are really on the front lines, right? And I’ve heard about all the other people on the front lines, but I don’t think we give enough credit to the food service industry and the food industry, and the people who are stocking shelves in grocery stores, and the people who are taking orders for food, and the people who are delivering food to your front door. They are taking risks, but they are out there doing their job and they’re out there driving this business forward. I want to give a huge shout out and thank you to those guys.

And to that end, you should be doing the same thing. If you’re pulling through a drive through say, “Thank you.” If you’re getting a delivery say, “Thank you.” Be generous with your tips, be generous with your praise and let’s help these guys out.

Next thing I’m going to talk about is they need all the help they can get. As busy as Portillo’s looks, there’s less traffic than there normally is. How do you help? Well, I said this last week, I’ll say this again today. I’ve heard this from several places here. But a lot of folks here in Chicago are calling it Food Out Friday. I don’t care if it’s Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, but tomorrow is Food Out Friday. And what does that mean? That’s your opportunity to order food for your office, for the people who you’ve got working at home, for your favorite customer, for your favorite aunt, for your favorite niece. Order food out. Have it delivered, have it carried out, have it picked up, but let’s support those restaurants.

Why are you supporting those restaurants? Not only are they the backbone of our economy, but let’s think about all the times that your local restaurant has supported your little league team. They’ve supported your local charity event. They’ve given a scholarship to a local high school. It’s time to pay those folks back. So Order Out Friday, Food Out Friday, let’s make sure that we’re doing everything we can to drive traffic for the folks behind us.

Next thing I want to talk about briefly is a phrase that I’ve used in my office, a phrase I’ve used with my clients and a phrase that I’ll use with you today and that is, “This is not business as normal.” Let me say it again, “This is not business as usual,” right? If you think, “Hey, this is going to pass. We’ll go back to business as usual. Everything’s going to be fine,” or even worse, “Hey, this may not pass. We’re doing business as usual, but we’re not sure what the result is,” you need to be experimenting and trying new and different things every day to drive your business.

Don’t say, “Let me cut spending right now. It’s a great time to cut spend. I don’t know what’s going to happen.” You need to be sharing business tools and ideas with every restaurant operator that’s out there, whether they are a restaurant, a healthcare facility, a K-12 facility. And you need to be thinking about, “Hey, people are going to get really tired of being cooped up in their houses. There’s going to be a food service boom when this thing gets kind of solved and we come off of lockdown, and what am I doing to capture that boom? What’s my strategy right now to jump forward?” Instead of just saying, “Things are going to go back to “normal”.

Nothing’s going to go back to normal. You need to be planning, spending, trying new things, looking at new challenges and looking at your business in a way that you’ve never looked at it before because that is our way forward. Not business as usual. These guys are out here killing it. Everybody that was working internally at Portillo’s, most of them are working externally at Portillo’s, and that’s just a way of adapting and thriving in this particular environment.

Finally, last thing I want to say is, I love what’s happening in the food service space. I think people are trying creative ways to get through this situation, whether that is people trying carry out for the first time, whether that’s schools delivering full week’s worth of meals into families so that they can eat, whether that’s health care facilities looking at delivering meals in a new and different way. If you know some of these situations, especially if they’re here in the Chicago land area, hit me up with a note. Share them here in the comments below because I’d love to go out and film some of that stuff to show best practices and who’s doing a great job of doing this thing.

I’m here with you guys. I loved all the comments last week. Let’s keep this thing moving forward. As somebody from Hatco told me recently, “Let’s eat, let’s be positive, let’s be the backbone of this economy and let’s go forward.” That’s what’s new in food. I’ll keep you guys posted. We’re in this together. We will get through this together.

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