With vaccines underway, talk of restaurants reopening (and pubs, bars, coffee shops etc) has been picking up. Finally it is beginning to feel safe to look to the future and plan what that means for your hospitality business. This week we look at three areas of business that restaurants will have to remain focused on if they are to reopen and attract repeat custom through their doors.
Health and safety
Health and safety has, of course, always been important for brands. The focus of that healthy and safety is now changing. Where previously food preparation and surface cleanliness took centre stage, now the industry must consider the infection risk between customers and staff. Brands will be judged on how they create the space to allow for social distancing to continue and will be expected to be transparent in their cleanliness procedures. Clear signage explaining the processes in place and hand sanitising areas will do a lot to reassure people.
Contact will be expected to be kept to a minimum so operators should consider how they can reduce the movement of staff through the dining space, using an order-to-table technology that removes the need for staff to attend tables to take orders and payments will become commonplace.
Taller tech stacks
The use of technology by brands will grow as we move out of COVID-19 and into the new normal beyond. Investments have been made by brands in the last year and those investments shouldn’t be dropped the moment sites reopen to the public, especially as that technology has been so happily embraced by customers.
We’ve already talked about order-to-table technology; that will be joined by other customer facing services such as order ahead for collection, digital drive-thru and better table reservation platforms. At the back end, kitchen management software, allergen management and customer tracking technologies will all help to streamline operations and keep businesses running at optimal levels.
Down the line we expect to see the restaurants reopening investing in ways to tie all of their disparate technologies together into a unified, integrated technology. With all the information being collected by individual softwares, it would be a cause for alarm if brands didn’t look to pool that data and respond to the patterns that emerge.
New design and layouts
Taking into account the desire to be socially distanced, as well as a rise in takeout and delivery for many restaurants, we would expect to see businesses reconfiguring their public space. Some might even reduce their dining rooms in order to give more space to the kitchen team, cooking and preparing orders that will be eaten off-site as well as on.
A reduction in table covers will be common in the immediate aftermath of COVID-19; many will maintain the 2m distance between tables that was mandated in 2020. More than this, brands will have to specify the flow of traffic through the room – a one way system for diners entering and leaving will be used to prevent people coming into direct contact.
While covers may be reduced inside, outside, we expect brands to increase their seating. Outside spaces were frequently under utilised prior to the pandemic, but consumers have shown that they’re willing to be seated in a garden or on the pavement in any weather over the past year. This isn’t going to change, and will help restaurants remain flexible – able to expand or reduce capacity more easily than when using their inside space alone.
Are your restaurants reopening? Talk to us about how we can help you achieve your objectives in a post-COVID-19 landscape.