This weekend I wrote about how restaurant traffic had seen precipitous drops last week in places like Washington State and New York City due to coronavirus. That trend has only gotten worse.
As of Sunday, restaurant traffic drops in big US cities hit hard by COVID-19 were eye-popping. Using OpenTable data, I charted the year over year traffic from about a month ago (Feb 18th, the first available date using OpenTable’s data) and compared it to year over year traffic on Sunday.
New York City’s restaurant traffic was down by 69%, while Seattle’s restaurant traffic had dropped by 62%. Despite being two of the earliest hotspots, these were not the biggest drops. San Francisco restaurant traffic was down by 72% on Sunday compared to a year earlier, while Boston’s traffic was down 70%.
It should all be noted that this has all happened before the start of mandatory restaurant dine-in shutdowns, which are beginning this week in New York City, Seattle and San Francisco. Clearly, these numbers are going to get worse.
It’s also worth noting that in cities where there are shutdowns, delivery is still allowed and those restaurants that can make the pivot to all-delivery models are attempting to do so. Even Canlis, Seattle’s legendary $300 a plate restaurant, has closed its dining room and opened up a burger-pick-up drive through lane.
Still, businesses that were built to feed diners inside a space cannot pivot on a dime and we’re seeing significant disruption to even the biggest names in dining. Danny Meyer announced the temporary shut downs of his restaurants, following the likes of Tom Douglas in Seattle. José Andrés, being the great José Andrés, has shut down his restaurants and turned them into community kitchens to feedd COVID-impacted families.
We’ll continue to cover the impact of coronavirus as we move into forced closings. For those restaurants looking to ramp up their delivery business, we’ve started to gather a list of companies lending a helping hand here.