maureen slocumAs COVID-19 vaccinations across the U.S. continue to ramp up, the bleak pandemic funk that has dominated life here for the past year finally looks like it is beginning to lift. As more and more Americans get vaccinated, the focus has begun to shift to what post-pandemic life will look like and how quickly we can get back to something that we might recognize as normal.

Of course, any forward-looking discussion of this kind must begin with a healthy dose of humility.  But, recent developments, such as the addition of a third approved drug manufacturer, Johnson and Johnson, with their single dose vaccination, is undeniably good news.

The restaurant industry, beleaguered by social distancing rules that have included restrictions on indoor dining and large gatherings, seems poised for a rebound once the pent-up demand from a lockdown-weary public can once again be met. We are seeing anecdotal evidence that this rebound is already taking shape, as designers and consultants report an uptick in activity. I think we all share the hope that this increase in activity is a foreshadowing of good things to come for the industry in general.

The 2021 industry event calendar may be another sign that things may look a lot better in the near future. Although the National Restaurant Show in Chicago in May recently had to be canceled, live shows scheduled or rescheduled for later in the year may enjoy a better fate. The North American Association of Foodservice Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM) is hoping to be the first big show to take place in Orlando in late August. Stay tuned as show plans for NAFEM and others in 2021 come into clearer focus.

While we gaze into the future, please enjoy a look at the intrepid folks who have recently completed their projects despite the challenges of COVID-19 in the fifth annual rd+d awards presented in this issue on page 36. Congratulations to all the winners, and a special thanks to everyone who took the time to submit their outstanding projects for consideration. 

All the best,