The COVID pandemic handed a heavy blow to the restaurant industry, forcing many dining establishments to down their shutters, lay off staff, and operate at severely reduced capacity. Because it meets the human need for food and social gathering, however, many experts say the restaurant industry will have a powerful return post-pandemic as COVID restrictions are lifted.
Experts believe that pent-up demand for dining out will trigger a strong revival of the restaurant industry ahead of hotels, airlines, theatres, and cruises, among other industries. Ahead of this likely situation, it could be the right time for investors to take a close look at RDE Inc. (OTCQB: RSTN), the owner and operator of digital restaurant deals platform Restaurant.com.
One upper hand the restaurant industry has over others in hospitality is convenience. There is no need to buy tickets, book a room or make travel arrangements months in advance to go to a restaurant; you simply go. Restaurant.com adds another dynamic to the convenience factor by giving consumers access to digital coupons, rewards, loyalty benefits and incentives. As such, RDE stock could be a barometer of wider industry growth as the company enjoys the fruit of its preparation ahead of what could be its biggest season of opportunity.
In a recent interview, Ketan Thakker, chief executive officer of RDE, explained why he agrees that the restaurant industry could lead a strong return to normalcy, if not one of unprecedented growth.
“When you look at all the industries that have been affected, whether it’s restaurants, airlines, hotels, cruise or theaters, our industry is going to pop or bounce back first,” he said. “Why? One, because of pent-up demand. Two, it is the easiest thing for people to do … I can just pick up and go, I don’t need to make any reservations at a hotel, or reservations with an airline that’s three months out … that’s why I believe that the restaurant industry is going to bounce back immediately as we get going here post-pandemic.”
So how did Thakker and his team at RDE prepare?
For starters, the company inducted Fabio Viviani as the first member to its restaurant advisory board, which was created to gather the expertise of restaurateurs and chefs who can add depth to RDE’s relationships with industry stakeholders.
Among his many accolades, Viviani is a hospitality developer, best-selling cookbook author and TV host, and has opened dozens of food establishments, restaurants, bars, and event spaces. According to Thakker, the addition of Viviani’s network and experience to the new board gives RDE a powerful hand in the “re-emergence” of the restaurant industry.
After the addition of Viviani, RDE announced the appointment of Vincent “Bo” Jackson to its Restaurant Advisory Board consisting of Chefs and Restaurateurs. In a move that signals the company’s continued focus on expanding relationships within the restaurant industry and beyond, RDE will greatly benefit from Bo Jackson’s Jackson & Partners, LLC and Jackson & Partners Restaurant Group Parent Company, J&P which has a highly specialized marketing and brand development division. Of course all of these assets flow down through Restaurant.com to the individual restaurants enhancing their situation in their local markets.
RDE also recently partnered with the Association of Mature Citizens (AMAC), a significant deal that introduces Restaurant.com to as many as 2.3 million members of AMAC, and struck a similar deal with MemberHub, a community engagement software company with nearly 3 million members.
Through these partnerships, Restaurant.com adds to the considerable reach and visibility of its services than ever. And with an industry-wide rebound on the horizon and a restaurant-focused advisory board on deck, this added market reach could serve as a powerful launching pad for major sales, marketing, and product expansion in new and existing markets.
In RDE’s March earnings release, Thakker noted that the company has already seen signs of improvement in underlying markets, likely due to the roll-out of COVID vaccinations, looser restrictions and a gradual increase in consumer confidence. If the restaurant industry does take the lead in a larger rebound in the hospitality, travel and entertainment industries, RDE has demonstrated its resilience by taking a proactive approach to capture this new opportunity.