Brendan Corkery Offers Essential Tips for Restaurants Struggling Amid Pandemic

Brendan Corkery

November 4, 2020

Brendan Corkery

The on-going COVID-19 pandemic has upended global society. While some countries have gotten back to some semblance of normal, lockdowns and social distancing remain the norm in many cities and nations. According to the popular review website Yelp, some 163,00 businesses, including restaurants, had closed as of August 31st, marking a 23% increase since mid-July. Worse yet, Yelp believes that more than 60 percent of closures will be permanent. Restaurant extraordinaire Brendan Corkery knows all about the challenges many small restaurants are facing.


“Owning a restaurant is a dream for many. And with the right recipes and management skills, that dream can become a reality,” Brendan Corkery states. “However, the risk of failure is high. And now amid the pandemic, many restaurants surviving on the edge are being overwhelmed. Even popular, successful restaurants that would normally survive, if not thrive, are being shuttered.”


Brendan Corkery Offers Restaurant Owners Some Top Chef Advice

 Brendan CorkeryBrendan Corkery knows all about business success and the many challenges restaurant owners face. He has spent years in the industry, having started and managed several successful restaurant chains. More recently, Brendan Corkery has been advising struggling restaurants and now has numerous turnaround successes under his belt.


“The restaurant business is one of the most competitive around,” Brendan Corkery argues. “A lot of aspiring restaurant owners don’t realize that. When you open a restaurant, you’ve to get everything right. A lot of people focus only on the food, but not the décor and staff. Some restaurants offer a great setting but mediocre food. Like any recipe, however, you must get every ingredient right, from concept to execution.”


Even before COVID-19, roughly 60 percent of restaurants failed within one year of opening. By year five? That number rises to 80 percent! Often, location and a lack of awareness are to blame. Now, with foot traffic falling due to the pandemic, raising awareness is even more challenging.


“Right now, restaurants need to be active on social media, food delivery apps, and other places that can raise awareness,” Brendan Corkery notes. “Even if you don’t want to use delivery apps long-term, connecting with social distanced customers is essential.”


Another major challenge is putting together a profitable menu. Often, restaurants aim to break even with entrees and generate profits off of drinks, desserts, and other high margin items. Now, many customers are unwilling to pay for a high-margin item, such as a glass of wine, when they can simply pick up a bottle at the grocery store to enjoy with their delivery or takeout at home.


“My advice,” Brendan Corkery says, “is to offer promotions that encourage people to run up bigger bills. Offer half-off appetizers for every entrée ordered. Let a customer add a salad for just $3. If you can increase the average bill, even if margins are low, you may still generate enough revenue to stay in operation.”


The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to create headwinds for restaurants. However, Brendan Corkery believes that well-managed restaurants can survive now and later thrive.