Last week we wrote about restaurant executives expressing caution on the delta variant and how it is changing the restaurant industry, Outside of Chili’s, chain executives said they saw little evidence of any sales decline because of the latest wave of infections. They were cautious, but not terribly fearful, either.

This doesn’t mean that the renewed pandemic will not have an influence on the industry. It will just look different than the first wave—mostly prolonging the shift in consumer behaviors that have arisen from the efforts to mitigate the virus.

The biggest impact will likely be in the recovery in urban areas, and particularly the lunch segment. Central business districts have been slower to recover because people have yet to return to work. As the delta variant has taken hold, companies are delaying return-to-work plans and people themselves have grown more reluctant to head back into the office.

What’s more, it could keep digital sales thriving for the foreseeable future—certainly until the pandemic eases for good, assuming that it ever does.

Consumers are clearly eager to keep eating out at restaurants, whether they take that food to their homes or eat inside. The delta variant, at least for now, appears to be having only a minimal impact on sales results.

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