What will restaurants be like in the wake of COVID-19?
The new normal will impact the restaurant sector like no other. Consumers will be less trusting and more demanding, not necessarily regarding the price or choice of foods, but about safety, cleanliness and quality.
To restore people’s confidence, creating more space between tables will not be enough. Restaurateurs will need to find creative, effective ways to demonstrate that health measures have been made a priority. Rather than discourage customers, these initiatives will serve to reassure them.
Room layout reviewed and adapted
To satisfy people’s concerns, the physical measures you take must clearly communicate how serious you are about safety.
- Increase the spacing between tables, or create a private space for each table or seat using panels, screens or Plexiglass bubbles. If the furniture cannot be moved, clearly indicate which seats must remain unoccupied in order to maintain physical distancing.
- Install Plexiglass panels at the cash.
- If possible, set up an outdoor patio to help recover lost capacity. You can also install a window to provide service directly outdoors.
- To reduce contact and proximity with the server, use service carts so that customers can take their own plates, cutlery, glasses, condiments and so forth.
- Consider covering plates at serving and using bagged cutlery.
- Reduce the number of articles on the table. Provide salt and pepper shakers, placemats, condiments, promotional materials, tablecloths, candles, placemats etc. upon request.
- Plan how people are to get around the dining room so they maintain safe distancing (when walking to the washroom, coat check or cash) and clearly indicate the pathway by using signs on the walls or floors.
- Provide your staff with the required personal protective equipment.
Cleanliness above all
Your customers need to see – and even feel – that you regularly disinfect surfaces and the space more generally.
- Provide customers with hand sanitizer upon entering the restaurant and before the meal.
- Regularly clean surfaces, especially those with high contact frequency (counters, service carts, tables and chairs, high chairs and booster seats, door handles, light switches, menus, cash registers, payment terminals, etc.
- Clear and clean tables one at a time to avoid contamination between tables.
- Increase cleaning frequency in bathrooms and clearly post the cleaning procedures and methods for the benefit of your customers.
Technology to the rescue
A number of tools can help you better manage your clientele and limit contacts.
- Consider reservations-only service using your web site or a reservation app. Ask your customers to arrive on time to help avoid crowding and line-ups.
- To help reduce no-shows, text people and ask them to confirm their reservations. It’s also a good opportunity to reassure customers about all the precautions you are taking.
- To make disinfecting easier, take a look at the different options for electronic menus: on the customer’s phone or on a tablet. If not, use one-time paper menus.
- Plan on a pay-at-the-table process to avoid people handing their credit card to the server.
- Provide an electronic receipt instead of paper.