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Independent restaurant concepts pivot to limited-service model to better compete amid the pandemic

Even as many cities and states reopen indoor dining, emerging brands are embracing the flexibility and consumer appeal of quick-service, fast-casual and virtual brands

As the COVID-19 pandemic battered the restaurant industry over the last year, limited-service restaurant concepts, particularly those with robust takeout and delivery options, emerged as the brands best positioned to weather the storm. 

The most notable success stories generally came out of large restaurant chains with strong digital infrastructure and delivery-friendly menus.

Now a number of independent restaurants and multiconcept operators are taking a page from those larger brands’ playbook — turning to quick-service, fast-casual or virtual models to hedge against dining-
room closures and cash in on consumer demand for comfort food that is fast, portable and affordable.

Here’s a look at how independent restaurants are developing new limited-service concepts or reimagining existing full-service brands for a pandemic-era consumer.

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