Rethinking restaurants after COVID-19

April 26, 2020
Abhinav Kapur

Solomon Choi is optimistic about restaurants after COVID-19.

He’s the founder and CE-Yo! of 16 Handles, the leading frozen yogurt brand in NYC. He started in 2008, when the financial crisis was about to reshape our lives. And he’s never raised a dollar of outside capital, constantly competing with (and outlasting) better-funded upstarts.

Like Andrew Schnipper, he’s an OG of the industry. And while he acknowledges that this is the toughest challenge yet, he’s never been more optimistic.

The domino effort facing restaurants after COVID-19:

Here’s his road map for thinking about the future:

  • off-premise is table stakes 🚲 – what’s your strategy?
  • how does that influence your digital engagement with the diner – across ordering and marketing? 📲
  • are you strictly third-party, or are you investing in your brand + channels to own the customer experience? 📣
  • how does that change your packaging? 🍱
  • will it impact your store footprint? 🏪
  • what does a changing store footprint mean for your in-store customer experience? 🤝🏽
  • do you need to rethink how you train employees to fulfill in-store and digital demand? 🧼
  • how does the P&L need to change so you can run a profitable digital channel? 💸
  • what strong about your brand today – and how do you lean into that to build a deeper connection with your guests 😍

Solomon has been fighting from behind since he started the business, but always seems to figure out a way to come out on top.

And while COVID has forced him to temporarily close ~75% of his stores, he’s still plotting for the future, again thinking about where the guest is going, what attracts them to 16 Handles, and how he can better serve them in the new world.

He understands that restaurants after COVID-19 will look very different, but also knows that this is a hard reset for the industry at-large.

Every operator now has the power – and time – to rethink their assumptions from the ground-up. Sure, it’s an uncertain time for our industry. But it’s also an opportunity to control our own destinies put our businesses into fighting shape for the future.