By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Knocked out by the coronavirus pandemic, some popular restaurants have been forced to close their doors.

David’s Cafe on Miami Beach, Ortinique on the Mile and California Pizza Kitchen in Coral Gables, and the Macaroni Grill in Doral are among those that didn’t survive.

“It has been a very tough six months. I think we have seen a good percentage of restaurants close,” said Lynne Hernandez, the South Florida regional director of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association.

Hernadez recognizes the plight of local restaurants, but like most restaurant owners and operators, she’s optimistic that those restaurants that have survived will adapt from lessons learned.

“I certainly see that with take out and delivery, I think it is here to stay for the foreseeable future,” she said.

Sure we are all used to McDonald’s and Pollo Tropicals, which have drive-thru down to a fine art. But they’re not the only ones. Sergio’s in Doral is an example of a traditional restaurant that has a drive-thru window for take out.

Looking toward the future, some restaurant industry experts say more of this is coming, even with high-end dining establishments.

But that’s not all.

“You are going to see outdoor dining continue. I think more people will move towards that,” said Hernandez. “I think people are going to be looking at that outdoor space trying to reconnect themselves, to make sure the guest is comfortable.”

Smarter, leaner, faster, and even robotics. All will be in play going forward. Ordering your food, online or on your phone, before even getting to the restaurant. The type of take out millennials have been doing for quite some time.

“We had a shift towards smaller spaces and more take out and delivery to answer the millennials before COVID came,” said Hernandez.

Going forward, enhanced websites for easier ordering, beefed up social media, and redesigned restaurant spaces will all be in the mix, even for local mom and pop joints, in an effort to keep their doors open in our changing times.

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