According to a study conducted by the Association Restauration Québec (ARQ) at the beginning of May, 72% of restaurateurs surveyed would like to reopen, even if that means reducing their dining room seating by 50%. They also need to implement certain changes to improve their operational efficiency and compensate for lost revenue.
While some are already looking at rethinking their organizations, scheduling and menus in order to reopen their dining rooms, 56% want to develop or expand their takeout offering, 34% want to initiate or strengthen their online ordering, and 31% want to offer delivery services. In effect, with ongoing social distancing, these services are not going to disappear anytime soon, and it’s not because your customers are eating at home that you can’t provide them with a uniquely enjoyable experience.
One thing you can do is offer full-course meals, from starters to desserts, with a special theme: summer BBQ, vegetarian fiesta, picnic basket, decadent brunch... to make your menu even more festive, accompany it with beer or wine (if possible) or house drinks. You can create a veritable event by offering this kind of menu once a week and advertising to that effect in your neighbourhood, as getting the word out about your offer is definitely the key to success!
Invite your customers to prepare one or two of your restaurant’s signature dishes with you providing the recipe and the ingredients. Make-at-home meals let people who love to cook prepare their favourite dishes from their favourite restaurants. To minimize the work and maximize their enjoyment, you can prepare some of the dish's elements in advance, like chopping the vegetables or preparing a spice mix or a sauce. For a more educational experience, add a short note explaining the origins of the dish and any anecdotes you want to tell about its preparation.
With people staying home, families are eating together more and more often, and big meals designed for sharing are gaining in popularity. Quicker to order, they are tailor-made for enjoying convivial meals together and often produce the kind of leftovers people look forward to the next day. Offer your most popular dishes for 4 to 6 persons with appropriate accompaniments. You can even offer your customers ready-to-cook or reheat meals if they'd like to order a meal but eat it only later.
With the pandemic, the “groceraunt” (part grocery part restaurant) is back. Though most were originally grocers who had a small dining area or offered meals for takeout, the term applies equally to restaurants that set aside some retail space on their premises where products and prepared meals are sold. In addition to your usual dishes, soups, sauces and house dressings, you can also offer certain staple products that you are already buying for your restaurants and that can save your customers a trip to the grocery store.
Now more than ever in this time of crisis, the Olymel Food Service team is here for you. If you need product information, advice or suggestions, do not hesitate to contact us by phone or email.
 Association Restauration Québec, “Majority of restaurants ready to re-open, even at 50%, but...”, May 14, 2020, http://www.restauration.org/nouvelle_20200514_sondage_reouverture_industrie_3n