On the latest episode of the Social Distance podcast, staff writer Derek Thompson joins James Hamblin and Katherine Wells to discuss what the future of your neighborhood storefront tells us about how the pandemic could change American cities.
Listen to the episode here:
What follows is an edited and condensed transcript of their conversation.
Katherine Wells: What is happening to restaurants? How much are they suffering right now?
Derek Thompson: There are two numbers that would help quantify how bad it is for restaurants right now. The first is zero. That’s the number of reservations that have been made on OpenTable in the last two weeks, because the dine-in business in the U.S.—and really throughout the world—has been effectively eliminated. And the other is –60 percent, which is the change in restaurant spending over the last month and a half. Independent mom-and-pop restaurants where dine-in is essentially their whole business, for a lot of them, that has gone to zero.
Wells: Are there any businesses that are doing okay?
Thompson: The businesses that are doing okay tend to be those businesses that were already doing okay with delivery before the pandemic effectively made delivery the entire restaurant business. Domino’s is doing well. Pizza delivery is doing really nicely. A couple of other takeaway places, like Chinese restaurants, are doing okay. Other places that have typically served comfort food that holds up all right to delivery, those are doing okay too. It’s really the sit-down places that have been utterly gutted.