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How Will Restaurants Survive Post-COVID-19? Phoenix Hospitality Design Firm Has The Answer

The restaurant industry has and continues to take the biggest hit from the wrath of COVID-19. It remains to be seen how exactly the restaurant industry will recover from the pandemic. Many restaurant owners have no idea how long the impact from forced closures and partial openings will last. Then there is the likely upcoming recession. Hospitality industry experts and Co-Founders of Bar Napkin Productions, Haley Balzano and Jeffrey Rausch, are currently working with clients to strategize a recession proof game plan for restaurants owners and hotel groups.

Balzano and Rausch are familiar with creating new restaurant concepts, and bringing innovative business strategies to life. Their firm is made up of brand experts, architects, interior designers, graphic designers, and social media specialists that focus on hospitality industry clients and increasing their profitability. Some of their clients have included the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, Harkins Theatres, Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, Coldstone Creamery, and Dunkin Donuts (

What We Currently Know: 

–       The National Restaurant Association (NRA) estimated that the restaurant industry would account for $900 billion in sales in 2020. 

–       In March alone those sales dipped by $30 billion. 

–       There are more than 1 million restaurants in the United States, employing 15.6 million people

–       The restaurant industry has already shed as many as 7 million of those jobs. 

–       The NRA projects that more than 140,00, or 14%, of restaurants will close permanently. 

–       The NRA has asked the federal government for a $145 billion recovery fund directed towards restaurants. This is still being debated in Congress. But, even if it passes, for many it will be too little, too late.

Balzano and Rausch have put those statistic into perspective, but are using them to take the COVID-19 crisis head on. Their current plan provides effective material, floorplan, branding, and messaging solutions so that customers feel confident dining, and owners are secure for the challenging months ahead. Although many smaller restaurants will not be returning, the hospitality experts are looking to provide support for any restaurant that has the resources to ride out a protracted downturn.

“This is the most challenging time for restaurants in our history. Big chain restaurants will likely have the resources to expand into now vacant restaurant spaces. It will be like Darwin’s survival of the fittest,” says Jeffrey Rausch, CEO & Co-Founder of Bar Napkin Productions

The Solution:

Restaurants will need to adapt to the new reality. For those that survive it will be a combination of time, assuring customers of their safety and significantly adjusting their operations. Whether big chain or not, Balzano and Rausch have made it their mission to help. Here are some of their suggested key highlights that will lead to success:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

            • Assure the customers of their safety

                  • Masks and gloves for workers

                        • Distancing customers from one another

                        • Minimizing wait staff contact with guests

                        • Sanitation stations

                        • Improving air conditioning filtration

                        • More out door dining

                        • One-time use, digital or chalkboard menus

                        • Packaged cutlery and condiments

                        • Communicating cleanliness and employee wellness procedures

                        • Disposable paper table covers and napkins

                        • Touchless restroom fixtures

                        • Adding Plexiglas separations where appropriate

    • Adjusting the menu                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                  • Downsizing the menu to improve food costing and deliverability

                        • Less share plates

                        • Utilizing locally sourced foods                      

            • Other revenue streams

                        • Delivery

                        • Grab & Go

                        • Street side delivery

                        • Grocery style options

            • Reducing costs

                • Rental rates will need to go down

                        • Food costs will need to be better managed

                        • Reduction of labor

            • Messaging

                  • Many who are succeeding during this time have become very adept at connecting with their client base through social media and direct emails.

                 • Clearly explain the actions that are being taken to give the customer comfort

Uncertainty rules the day. But, good planning, management and flexibility are the ultimate keys to success.

Recent COVID-19 Related Sound Bites:                                                

Changes In The Hospitality Industry (42:42)                                                                       

ABC 15 NEWS                                                                                           

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