Domes, dining pods, and the outdoor dining outlook

A version of this article appeared on 11/3/20 in, a free weekly newsletter from Back of House with news, resources, and more curated by our team. It goes out to thousands of restaurant operators each Tuesday morning. Subscribe today to get our coverage of the restaurant technology space directly to your inbox!


The Industry Appetizer

A quick snack on some headlines that caught our editors' eyes this week.

  • Outdoor outlook: A Rewards Network survey of 400 restaurants found that ~50% of them feel they'd survive less than a year with indoor dining restrictions in place. Another (the same?) half of respondents are looking into winterization options—including outdoor heaters—and 2/3rds believed diners would be at least "somewhat" willing to dine outdoors in the winter months. Fingers crossed. (Restaurant Dive / CNN)

  • Examining "igloo" safety: Speaking of outdoor dining, here's a thorough look at the pros and cons of the clear plastic bubbles—sometimes called igloos, domes, or dining pods—that some operators are turning to in order to maintain outdoor service as the temperatures drop. (Washington Post)

  • Is COVID food-borne?: Researchers at Virginia Tech recently won a $1M grant from the USDA to dig into whether the coronavirus can be transmitted by food and packaging. There's no evidence of the virus moving through the food chain so far... but researchers say better safe than sorry. (The Counter)

Tech Talk

The restaurant software, hardware, and solutions stories we've been chewing on lately.

  • 150,000 unauthorized additions?: Delivery giant GrubHub is facing a lawsuit brought by a pair of restaurants—on behalf of approximately 150k others—who allege that listing them on the platform without their permission was a violation of federal trademark law. (Restaurant Business / SF Chronicle)

  • WeChat worries: Terrific feature on how the proposed U.S. ban on the popular Chinese messaging app would affect the Chinese-American restaurant operators that have long used it to communicate with family at home, and since the pandemic have leaned on it as a way to reach fellow operators and diners stateside. (Eater)

  • Next up for Nextbite: "Decentralized ghost kitchen" company Ordermark raised $120M to expand on Nextbite, its portfolio of virtual restaurant brands that can be franchised to leverage underutilized kitchen space. "A franchise model for the digital age," remarks restaurant-tech vet Kristen Hawley. (TechCrunch / Expedite)

Pantry Staples

Resources for restaurant operators, created and curated by our team.

  • COVID-19 resource hub: We've consolidated all our coronavirus pandemic resources into an easy-to-find content hub. Check it out! (Back of House)

  • Virtual reality x restaurants: Check out three ways operators are leveraging next-level tech to enhance diners' experiences. (Back of House)

  • Hygiene & sanitation update: Looking to overhaul your restaurant's cleaning regimen for the COVID-19 era? Here's a helpful overview on what to consider. (Back of House)

[Photo: Drew Beamer via Unsplash]