Business Development Food Health Tourism

5 Ways Social Distancing Are Changing The Restaurants

By Heidi Jones

Now, many countries are beginning to lift nation-wide lockdowns imposed due to coronavirus. But their economies are in a crippled state. Many people have lost their jobs, and almost everyone is in an altruist mode. We have not had holiday trips, watched a theatre show, or witnessed a sporting event for the last 3-4 months. Many businesses, such as the auto sector, textiles, and tourism, have come to a standstill. And, the hospitality sector remains one of the worst affected ones. Fear of contracting infection, avoiding gatherings, etc., have made people stay home. Governments have issued guidelines like reducing the seating capacity, timing restrictions for the restaurants.

Moreover, there is an increased consciousness among people to prefer home-cooked healthy food. Long term work from options is another reason for the newfound interest in cooking. Let us see how hoteliers are wooing customers as we move past the peak of the pandemic.  

1.   Healthy and safe food options:

Restaurateurs have to assure customers that the food they provide is healthy, hygienic, and dining-in is safe. You will have to ensure that the chefs cook the food at the right temperature, wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly, use good quality local meat. People are currently not interested in trying out exotic food. So, having your farm and in-house production of veggies, fruits, and animal products will be added advantages. Now, the hoteliers can have posters and videos showcasing the taken, such as clean uniforms, disposable gloves, masks, covered shoes, and other safety precautions for the staff.

2.   Physical barriers and distancing:

Two things that doctors and governments want the public to ensure are wearing masks and maintaining physical distances. Restaurants are changing the seating layout and check that people are at a minimum of 6 feet separation from one another. They are opting for innovative ways like crossing the next seat, placing mannequins, segregating with a glass shield, separate glass domes, etc. These might seem strange, but following social distancing whilst eating out will be the norm until we have a vaccine. Moreover, the dining area will shift to the rooftop or garden lawns. You might have to book the table in advance as the staff may not allow waiting at the foyer or outside. Many restaurants will also give the option of the drive-thru and pick up window systems. 

3.   Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing:

Whether you go to a grocery shop or a restaurant, customers might require sanitizing their hands before stepping in. The restaurants have to ensure thorough disinfection of tables, glasses, and high-touch areas like doorknobs and chairs. It is not the removal of dirt and food particles alone. They should have a daily, weekly, and monthly schedules for the cleaning activities. They are also adopting advanced cleaning methods like UV light air purification, ionizing using electrostatic tools, etc. You may not find plates, glasses, or tissues on the tables as you enter. Similarly, there may not be any tabletop condiments like salt, sauce, pepper, etc.

4.   Touch reduction:

Science shows that the coronavirus is capable of surviving on plastic, metal coverings, cardboard, etc. So, to avoid contraction through various touchpoints, restaurants have made new arrangements. It includes automatic doors or foot levers for doors, disinfecting the tables before and after the customers come. Hand washing might become compulsory. There will be single-use menu lists, or you might have apps for menu selection. Servers may not come for refilling, and we are already having robots serving food. Restaurants might avoid the buffet-model until we have a vaccine or a cure for covid-19. 

5.   Advanced reservations and mobile payment systems:

Table booking was a common practice even during pre-corona days. Most of us lead busy lives and do not wish to wait outside for having a meal or dinner. But, now, advanced reservation booking might become compulsory. It will help the housekeeping staff to maintain the reduced capacities and also allocate time for deep cleaning of the dine-in areas. Now it is also possible to schedule your takeaway orders. And, many might utilize technologies such as robotic arms for handling your order in pick-up windows. Payments could become completely remote and app-based. One need not swipe the credit cords or wait for mobile scanning.  

Final Thoughts:

Due to the pandemic, not many people are going to be regular patrons at the hotels. Moreover, the restaurants have to reduce the dining capacity to assure social distancing. The first step to attract customers is to let them know about your hygienic practices that undertake in response to the current situation. Most hoteliers use social media to communicate the changes. You could stick pamphlets and posters on the premises too. Also, it becomes necessary to educate the staff and customers regarding the necessity of new policies. And let them know the disastrous consequences of not sticking to the guidelines. Including healthy options on the menu, giving discounts, and gift cards are few of the ways to draw more patrons and gradually increase the footfall. 

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende