“Reservations for four, please.” Once an ordinary phrase, hearing those words is now hard to take for granted. As we all make our way toward the post-COVID world, much about what the new restaurant norms will be is still taking shape. Though some changes feel like they’ll be with us indefinitely. Here are a few.
Reassurance around safety.
Restaurant guests want to know that you put their welfare first. Period. Your guests and staff will like hearing about the safety and cleaning steps that your restaurant takes to protect everybody. Visible signs of your concern and active measures that prove it get noticed. Seeing proper cleaning and placing inspection notices in a visible spot add up to confidence. What’s more, seating plans are likely forever changed after this time of social distancing. Fewer people are inclined to eat shoulder-to-shoulder with people they don’t know.
Paperless menus are becoming more and more common. We’ve all become mildly OCD from all this. There’s less desire to touch anything that someone else has recently had in their hands. Contactless payment is now the way most of us expect to do things. What’s more, the face of many restaurants during COVID has been their website. Staying on top of your digital presence will be vital. People expect you to be up-to-date on everything from dining hours to food choices and safety policies. Open Table also advises that restaurants offer waitlists online and add outdoor tables to the floorplan to help get guests in again.
Take-out and delivery requests.
Folks will want a blend of choices for eating out or taking out. Many realize that fine-dining food isn’t always beautifully plated or the perfect temperature – and they’re ok with that some days. Though by now, chefs have fine-tuned menus that travel well and evolved successful options during the last year. Drive-through, pick-up lanes, curbside and home delivery are here to stay. With fewer people going back into an office regularly, that will likely help restaurants keep volume up.
Restaurants became very creative to survive. From selling their specialties in grocery stores to offering take-out cocktails, the strongest have adapted in ways no one could have predicted. It’s led to discovering new ideas to turn tables faster and other efficiencies that will continue, despite recent staffing challenges and supply chain disruption.
This was here before and during COVID and will be with us for eternity. Connecting with friends and loved ones is a human need that had to be put aside during COVID. We’ve missed one another and the way we connect over food. It’s why we’ve always enjoyed gathering in restaurants and why restaurants with tables are coming back again. We’ll raise our forks to that.
An appreciation for outdoor dining.
From picnic tables in the parking lot to newly installed patios, restaurants have embraced fresh air to survive. Eating outdoors helped guests return and moved restaurant recovery forward. Now that guests have tasted the great outdoors, they want this restaurant option to be available permanently. Eating beside a heater doesn’t seem so strange. For many restaurants. temporary solutions may now be worth upgrading to become more permanent physical upgrades. Adding patios and deciding to enclose them are often smart business moves.
If you need help making a decision about enclosing your patio, feel free to reach out. We can help you sort out the kinds of protection that will work best in your climate, how to keep your guests comfortable across seasons, which solutions make the most sense for your budget and even how to finance your patio upgrade. Helping restaurants do high-quality patio improvements is what we do every day and we’re happy to share our insights. Our wish for the rest of 2021 is a return to the happiness of gathering around tables again and success for everyone who makes that possible.