Smaller menus & shorter hours: How the pandemic has permanently changed Madison-area restaurants – – WISC-TV3

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MADISON, Wis.– As local restaurants continue to struggle, industry leaders are making cuts. However, local managers say not all changes have been bad.

RELATED: Dane County’s service industry lost 44% of its work force during the pandemic

“The pandemic forced us to reevaluate,” explained Jordan Bright, managing partner at Food Fight restaurant group.

“It was such a disruptive event that it caused us to look at parts of our business that we took for granted before.”

With Madison-area restaurants operating for months at just 25-percent capacity, industry leaders had to make a lot of quick changes to their staff, menus, and hours in order to survive.

“We realized that more abbreviated menus have a lot of efficiency to them,” said Bright.

“Once we were forced to, we realized we were wasting time on a lot of things our customers weren’t really that interested in in the first place. For example, we didn’t always take the most critical eye to to the last half hour or hour of service. At many restaurants, we weren’t making a lot of money during that hour, so we cut it, and found that just made sense.”

As restaurant groups like Food Fight continue to recover, Bright says several pandemic-induced cuts are becoming permanent: a move that’s allowing managers to focus on other aspects of their business.

“I think we’ve always had very strong pay rates and benefits packages, but we really doubled-down on those efforts,” he said.

“There are a lot of positives in all this chaos.”

While many restaurants laid off staff early in the pandemic, most are once again hiring. Click here for a list of local service industry opportunities.


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