The food industry was hit hard by the unprecedented events of 2020, which saw restaurants worldwide having to close their doors. What was once one of the most prosperous industries suddenly saw all of its streams of revenue vanish. The concept of dining out has become a thing of the past and restaurant owners have been left to find ways to pivot and prevail. Here Nada Alshamsi owner of the popular UAE burger restaurant Huff & Puff Burger shares the full impact that COVID-19 has had on restaurants and the food industry.
Alshamsi shares that the impact of COVID-19 on the food industry was particularly disastrous because it was an unexpected threat. Restaurants hadn’t known to prepare for the total disintegration of the social culture that their industry was built on. Alshamsi explains that when the pandemic first hit, it was elaborate sit-in dining that was the worst affected. Restaurants that appealed to parties and large groups, saw their clientele disappear. Social distancing and the total elimination of group gatherings left these dining establishments facing extinction. Alshami elaborates that on the flip side, fast food restaurants and restaurants that were equipped for take-away saw their demand double. According to Alshamsi the ingenuity that was required to keep a restaurant afloat in the height of the pandemic was unfathomable. But many restaurants rose to the challenge and adapted their menus and services, to continue serving customers despite the pandemic. Regarding the tenacity shown by restaurateurs, Alshami says, “The food industry was suddenly thrown into the trenches and had to fight to survive and they had to use their wits to do so.”
Huff & Puff Burger was established by Nada Alshamsi and maintains its title as a must-visit destination for burger lovers in UAE. Huff & Puff Burger found success through the dedication to a single cause; the perfect burger. The restaurant has expanded since 2016 and now has 17 locations. Alshamsi faced the same challenges as other restaurant owners during the COVID-19 crisis and credits his ability to adapt for surviving the pandemic, “In every business, you will face challenges and the only way you will survive is if you adapt to them.”
The restaurant and food industry is still dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic but hopefully, with faith and perseverance, this once booming industry will recover.