The restaurant industry is challenged to balance and adapt to new on-premises dining requirements and consumer expectations. As we venture forward, “business as usual” will be a foreign concept for some time. Pret A Manger’s chief executive explains that the sandwich shop will be “a very different operator” due to protocols implemented to comply with social distancing guidelines. And it’s likely that many of these temporary adjustments will establish the new normal moving forward.
Here are five of the biggest changes social distancing has created in the on-premises restaurant experience:
In order to abide by the 2-meter rule (or 6-foot rule in the U.S.), restaurants will have to restrict their capacity. Tables will be spaced accordingly and walkways will be increased and marked. Those changes could cause long queues, particularly during peak times, as only a certain number of guests will be permitted entry at one time.
To manage the crowds, some restaurants have added staff specifically for crowd control. This could be a great opportunity for your restaurant to improve the guest experience with a polite greeting and friendly engagement as customers wait. By drawing on the more traditional qualities of a front-of-house host, you have the chance to improve relationships with your guests and increase loyalty, factors that will be incredibly important as we navigate through this season of adjustment.
On the other hand, some businesses are likely to introduce a pre-booking/ pre-ordering system to avoid not only queues but also staff interaction with guests.
We’ve seen the adoption of plexiglass screens creating a barrier between retail service providers and guests, this could extend to fast casual and quick service quite simply. You can see examples emerging in Italy and other European countries where these dividers are also being used between tables. Other businesses may opt to provision self-service kiosks, traditional standalone vending machines, or a flipped point of sale in self-service mode –accompanied with a sanitation plan and process. We also see interesting self-contained pod concepts as illustrated in Scandinavia.
Previously self-service food options like salad bars and buffets were common in many countries. However, with heightened hygiene concerns surrounding uncovered food and shared self-service utensils, we are likely to see a diminished demand for such options. As a result, restaurants that operated this way in the past, will need to re-think how they serve their customers in order to remain competitive while concern remains high.
This is not only a big shift in design for traditional buffet-style restaurants but also for large events like weddings, conferences and meetings where restaurants provide catering. A sit-down full-service meal is not always realistic due to time or financial constraints. Reimagining the self-service buffet is something that will materialize in the near future.
Takeaway, delivery, drive-thru and curbside models have all been tested and tuned over the past few months, and for some, to great success. Businesses who successfully shifted to off-premises and were able to engage customers regularly online should expect this consumer behaviour to persist. We are creatures of habit. Some people are more than happy to continue participating in the stay at home economy and the convenience of these take-out methods will make them increasingly popular. Operating a multichannel model requires fine tuning of in-house and off-premise operations to ensure highly productive inventory and staff, strong brand affinity with customers, and high quality product.
Oracle Food and Beverage can help you adapt your business and fine-tune your business model to ensure optimal business performance, even in suboptimal conditions. Request a complimentary consultation from our solutions engineering team who can walk through various financial models and strategies for success. Reach us by phone: US: +1 866-287-4736; UK: +44 207 5626 827; AU: 1300 366 386; LAD: 52 559 178 3146) | chat | or request a call backFor more information and tips, visit our resource center, subscribe to our blog,visit our website.