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Industry Insiders Predict the Headlines for 2021

The highs and lows

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In keeping with Eater tradition, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. To kick it off in the Carolinas, Eater asked the group eight questions, ranging from the restaurants they frequented for takeout to the saddest surprises of the year. Responses are in no particular order, and readers are encouraged to leave answers in the comments.

Q. What are your headline predictions for 2021?

Mike Ledford, Eater Carolinas photographer
“Less affordable lunch options plague King Street”, “Shake Shack lands in Charleston”, “Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar Shutters”, “Jack’s Cafe Re-Reopens With New Ownership”

Matthew Lardie, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering NC
I think we’ll see a continued resurgence in small-town dining while establishments in urban centers continue to suffer.

KJ Kearney, Founder of Black Food Fridays
Charleston is going to bounce back. We are a city known for hospitality: weddings and restaurants most notably. And the infrastructure that has been created around that identity is going to allow a rebirth of some sort. Too much money involved for it to just die out.

Stephanie Burt, writer and host of The Southern Fork:
I’m not saying anything new here, but I think online ordering and pick up is here to stay.

Ricky Moore, owner/chef of Saltbox Seafood Joints
2020 has been a year of exposure, revelation, unfairness, inequality and racism.

Restaurateurs and chefs have learned to do biz a different way, but will stay true to who they are. I predict chefs will reengineer their work to produce even more interesting, creative and thoughtful food offerings and restaurant concepts. They won’t give up on delivering what they do, but they will continue to evolve. In the end, this will bring about even more interesting concepts because we are all thinking so in-depth about every aspect of the business.

Kenneth Andrews, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering SC
“2021....that’s it. That’s the headline.”

Erin Perkins, editor Eater Carolinas
“Pink Bellies Opens to Lines Around the Block”

Hanna Raskin, Food writer and critic for the Post & Courier
Pass: I’m not going to jinx it by writing something sunny, and I’m not ready to put the worst in print.

Eric Ginsburg, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering NC
Vaccines won’t be enough to save the restaurant industry without significant government investment, and we’ll continue to see a wave of closures. Locally, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more mobile and popup businesses trying to find low-cost ways to fill some of the void as brick and mortars shutter. I also expect more delivery-only kitchens to open.

Barbara Skidmore, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering SC and Savannah
Determining what safe dining really is.

Brooks Reitz, Restaurateur (Melfi’s, Little Jack’s Tavern, Leon’s Oyster Shop)
Restaurants continue to lean into alternate sources of revenue that don’t require a chair - think bottled sauces, more merch, and more elaborate representations of what they do beyond just food. Also, people are going to get SHITFACED in groups when things open back up.

D.R.E. James, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering SC
Whenever Thai [Phi] opens up Pink Bellies, everybody in Charleston is gonna go bonkers!

Dave Schuttenberg, owner/chef at Kwei Fei and Micho
There will be opportunities to be seized upon by people who have somehow navigated this mess. I predict we will see some exciting growth and new concepts from people in spite of how terrible this year has been. Tina always reminds me to find the opportunity in the struggle. I can’t wait to see who finds their opportunity.

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