Key takeaways from Thursday's SPOTLIGHT featuring the CEOs of Raising Cane's and Checkers and Rally's

Courtesy of Frances Allen, John Gordon, and Todd Graves; Samantha Lee/Business InsiderThursday’s spotlight featured Checkers CEO Frances Allen, Raising Cane’s founder and CEO Todd Graves, and analyst John Gordon.
  • On Thursday, Business Insider’s hosted a SPOTLIGHT digital live event with restaurant industry leaders to discuss how restaurants are navigating the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Correspondent Kate Taylor was joined by Frances Allen, the CEO of Checkers & Rally’s, Todd Graves, the founder and CEO of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, and John Gordon, a chain restaurant analyst with Pacific Management Consulting Group.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On Thursday, Business Insider hosted a SPOTLIGHT digital live event with restaurant industry leaders and experts to discuss how restaurants are navigating the coronavirus pandemic.

Thursday’s SPOTLIGHT was hosted by retail correspondent Kate Taylor and featured Frances Allen, the CEO of Checkers & Rally’s, Todd Graves, the founder and CEO of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, and John Gordon, a chain restaurant analyst with Pacific Management Consulting Group.

Watch the webinar below:





Key takeaways

  • Customers’ priorities have changed to value food safety over taste.
  • Customers are also one-stop-shopping more, meaning they’re buying larger orders, but less frequently.
  • The two most successful changes restaurants have made during the pandemic are offering family meals and curbside pickup.
  • Also key is maintaining a relationship with customers and employees in whatever way possible.
  • The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of contactless payment.
  • The late-night period has been the hardest-hit and will likely see lasting foot traffic losses.
  • The QSR sector is faring much better than the casual dining sector, with an average 35% revenue decrease compared to an average 60-90% revenue decrease.
  • Activity will gradually shift back to normal instead of a sudden switch, so many of the changes implemented during the pandemic will likely need to remain in place for the long term.
  • Visual indicators of sanitization will be paramount for customer comfort even after the pandemic.
  • Many restaurants will close permanently due to the pandemic, but that may lower rents for restaurants that make it through as well as increase traffic and bring some price wars to an end.

Notable Quotes

  • Graves: “If you haven’t applied for PPP, better get ready. It has run out. I believe they will do a second traunch.”
  • Graves: “Let people know you’re open, assure them you’re going to serve them a food-safe product.”
  • Gordon: “Maintain some kind of relationship to your employees so at least some of them have jobs and keep at least some lights on for your customers who are going to come by.”
  • Gordon: “It’s vitally important for restauranteurs to start thinking about what conditions are going to be like going ahead. It is silly to think that there is going to be a grand switch that is gonna come on and everything is going to go back to normal.”
  • Allen: “We’ve started to think about, how many different ways can we reduce the points of contact between staff and customers?”
  • Allen: “Restaurants that focus on visible signs of sanitation – hand sanitizer, hand wipes, masks, etc. – are going to do better than ones that don’t.”
  • Gordon: “There will be fewer front doors. That’s bound to happen. That doesn’t mean a permanent loss of jobs.”
  • Allen: “Selfishly, I believe people are going to want to return to comfort foods as a relief we’ve survived.”
  • Graves: “As a whole, I think people are going to trust restaurants more than before the pandemic.”

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