continue table service at the pub?

Should bars and pubs continue table service

Around the world, restrictions are lifting. Despite the fact that the COVID-19 virus is still ‘alive and well’, economies need boosting and governments are beginning to relax the rules in order for the new normal to establish itself.

In various regions this will and does mean the end of compulsory table ordering and the return of queuing at the bar for refreshments. Some may cheer at this visible signal of normalcy, but is this a good thing?

The decision will be up to the individual brand, and for most, will be made after balancing the health risks/benefits alongside the financial impact. Culturally ordering at the bar might be traditional, but is tradition enough to bring back queues and scrummages in front of the till?

Here’s choosing to continue table service – backed up by a digital ordering technology – might be the wiser path.


In all the time that people have been talking about the benefits of ordering apps for staff efficiency and customer spending, very few have mentioned the relief it can provide those living with disabilities. In a pub or bar, queuing amongst throngs of people is not easy for anyone with a physical disability, or, indeed auditory or visual challenges. If a person is in a wheelchair, they can’t be seen by the staff, nor can they manoeuvre easily through the crowds. When there’s a lot of people and noise coming from different directions, a customer with auditory difficulties can have problems hearing and isolating the voice of the server.

In this way, table ordering has been a great leveller, democratising the experience for those who previously struggled. What’s more, Theravada’s table ordering app is one of the few on the market with specific accessibility capabilities; it can be adapted to the needs of the end user.


From a security perspective, the least number of times a customer’s payment card leaves their hands, the more protection they’ll have. Yet, even keeping a card in their grasp or within their wallet does not fully protect a customer while they wait in line. Thieves can use high-tech card reading machines to scan a person’s card details through their wallet or jacket/trouser pocket simply by brushing past.  

Paying from within an app is a far more secure way of paying for a drink or meal. Indeed, with in-app payments, a person doesn’t even need to take their credit or debit card with them to their local pub/bar. Unless using guest checkout, table ordering apps tend to ask customers to set-up a password protected account where their details can be stored behind a password and security wall to prevent fraud.

Social distancing

While social distancing may be being phased out as a requirement by governments, that doesn’t mean it isn’t still recommended. In England, social distancing isn’t required anymore and yet a significant portion of the population is continuing to wear masks and practice caution when out and about. The chances are that this will continue into the future.

Some businesses may feel that wearing a mask is enough, yet a professor of Sociology at Nottingham Trent University, Robert Dingwall has said that wearing a mask at the bar will “offer little protection to the wearer” without social distancing. What no company wants it to be the source of a local outbreak of COVID – or for their staff to catch the virus just so that customers can return to their old ways. Table service, especially when mobile ordering is used, protects customers and staff from transmitting the virus.

To continue table service might still feel unusual to some customers and businesses, and a desire to reclaim what COVID has taken away might fuel brands returning to a bar service and ditching table service all together. But before making the switch, weigh up the pros and cons because, as strongly believe, there are more benefits to be had by using a digitally-enabled bar service than there are by inviting a scrummage at the bar.

To talk to us about table ordering and Theravada’s Order-to-Table solutions, contact us today.