The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world permanently. That much is clear. We lost things, we grieved the losses, we adapted and discovered new opportunities. Turns out that “life as we know it” is not the ultimate value, and what we thought was essential to our wellbeing and sense of security could change in a blink of an eye, but we would still find our way back to happiness and contentment. Humans are truly the most resilient beings.
Remember how seeing your usual dinner spots closed or going out of business felt like a traumatic experience? The end of civilization for many. And we shouldn’t ridicule or minimize the significance of that emotion. It is not just about food. Because what could be more permanent, more essential, more American than going out to eat on a Friday night? We didn’t just mourn the loss a certain level of comfort, we mourned the loss of our community – dinners with family and friends at our favorite establishments were the glue that held us together.
The restaurant industry was dealt a really rough hand. “Restaurants have suffered the largest economic hardship of nearly any business during the pandemic. The $60B in Restaurant Revitalization Fund was used up within weeks, leaving most applications unanswered,” says Ross Glick, founder and CEO of Vegan Warrior Project, a company that helps restaurants by connecting them to a network of plant-based delivery concepts.
Rapid shutdowns in cities and states to stem the coronavirus threw restaurants across the country into sudden and complete disarray. Revenue dried up abruptly, workers faced mass layoffs and restaurant executives tried to manage the resulting chaos. When the pandemic started, restaurants of all types were in varying states of collapse. The industry was the country’s second-largest private employer with 15.6 million workers.
This is a very traditional industry where in-person interaction is key and ambiance is often as important as the food itself. Before the pandemic, many kitchens ran on paper orders and recipes printed from Word documents.
“Even in good times, restaurants walk a profit tight-rope in managing their expenses against a fixed-revenue ceiling, bound by their seating capacity, turn-around times, weather, inventory management, etc.,” comments Glick.
And yet, despite everything, many restaurants have proven their resilience at every turn in this pandemic – and they’ve been able to succeed by adapting again and again to the new rules and realities of operating a people-centric business in a global health crisis. While at their most vulnerable, restaurants invested heavily across the board to adapt to the hand they were given and modernize everything from contactless payments and online ordering and delivery to inventory management and employee safety.
Digitalization is what saved the industry and will continue to play a key role in its recovery and thriving. Vegan Warrior Project was established by visionaries who have offered struggling restaurants a great solution and the way forward. By digitizing the kitchen, a restaurant can not only store recipes, track orders and manage inventory, but also cut costs and tap new revenue streams.
“VWP has created a WIN for restaurants to monetize their excess capacity and grow their income with no significant investment or risk to their current operations,” explains Ross Glick when asked about his company’s mission.
Operators with the resources and knowledge to promote their businesses had an inherent advantage during the pandemic when regulations and conditions changed on a near-weekly basis. Online-ordering platforms have watched demand for their services increase 10-fold since the start of the pandemic. Even concepts that put a strong emphasis on in-person experiences acknowledge that consumer demand for off-premises service will endure far beyond COVID-19.
The rise of digital as a business requisite does not diminish the importance of high-quality food. An engaging Instagram account will do little if the presentation, taste, and overall experience aren’t on par.
Ross Glick says that the idea of starting Vegan Warrior Project goes back to the time when his kids decided to switch to an entirely plant-based diet. As he tried to come up with creative recipes, he realized that people don’t really need to depend on animal products anymore. Vegan food is a healthy and delicious alternative for those who want to live longer and happier lives.
While plant-based menus are becoming extremely popular, the pandemic highlighted one particular problem, which VWP turned into an opportunity. There is a shockingly limited number of tasty vegan options available for delivery.
The Vegan Warrior Project virtual-licensing model with Fulfillment Kitchen Partners helps bridge that gap and creates the solution to the struggling industry’s problem. This way, restaurant owners can meet consumers where they are, i.e. online, by leveraging extra kitchen capacity, which doesn’t require any significant investments. Restaurants can thrive in the post-pandemic reality by fulfilling online orders of plant-based menu items. The ultimate rescue plan!How It Works