Ordering for food delivery blew up during the pandemic, and remains perhaps the easiest way for restaurants to reach customers. But with the mask mandate no longer in effect amid dwindling COVID-19 case numbers, people may start going out to eat more.
Frank Scavio and his brothers at Paesan’s Pizza started shipping frozen pizza when business slowed.
“We were losing sales week after week, compounding 10% each week. We were down 30, 40%, so we had to pivot,” he said.
While it’s only a slice of his overall sales, it’s become an important one.
“We actually had to build another freezer. We had to hire a couple extra people. It’s exploded. It’s been great,” Scavio said.
But researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy said the demand may drop off.
“Nothing will replace the experience of going to a restaurant, the environment, having a drink, having good company, etcetera,” said Jose Holguin-Veras, director of the Center for Infrastructure, Transportation and the Environment at RPI.
He co-authored a paper on the research that surveyed consumers about their habits prior to the pandemic, during the pandemic and their expectations after the pandemic.
It showed users of grocery delivery services increased the most by about 113%.
“When we computed the data after, basically the expectation is about 65%. About half,” he said.
Holguin-Veras said it sheds a lot of light on changing trends, and what the industry should prepare for.
“How we manage packaging space is essential to productivity and sustainability,” he said.
Back at the pizza shop, Scavio believes there could be a dip in sales, but not enough to halt his frozen pizza business.
“It’s still going to be a viable business for us that we’re going to continue to push and grow,” he said.
As far as delivering pizza locally, he said that’s a constant, especially heading into the busy Super Bowl weekend.