The Food-Service Industry: Best of Times, Worst of Times
Susskind, Alex M.
Technology has long been a factor in restaurants’ back-of-house operations, but the actual amount of automation depends on the restaurant operator’s preferences and, to some extent, the type of restaurant. Technology is now expanding in the front of the house, as part of the service interaction with guests, but again the implementation is uneven and depends in part on the restaurant’s concept. Whatever technology is introduced should at minimum not damage the guest experience and preferably should boost service levels. Participants in a recent roundtable at the School of Hotel Administration examined these and other issues in the foodservice industry, with a particular emphasis on the entrepreneurial aspects of the restaurant industry. Food service now stretches beyond the restaurant business, as grocery stores have entered the meal replacement sector, and food-kit deliveries are growing in popularity. Changes in the restaurant industry have influenced vendors, whether they offer a broad line or systems distribution. One other issue that is in flux is tipping, as some restaurateurs have eliminated tipping and raised menu prices to balance payrolls throughout the restaurant, while others retain tipping due to customers’ price sensitivity.
Cornell School of Hotel Administration; technology; restaurant business; automation; retail food market; big data; promotion; tipping
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