To say the coronavirus pandemic has been hard on the foodservice industry is an understatement. It has challenged us in ways we never imagined, but the foodservice community is filled with people who are extremely resilient. Restaurants immediately analyzed and adjusted their operations in order to serve their customers safely. Some of the necessary changes actually turned out to be for the better. They say every cloud has a silver lining, and in this case, we found five:
- Dining Al Fresco
Indoor dining restrictions radically changed the idea of being seated outside. Previously, patio seating wasn’t highly requested unless your restaurant offered scenic views. Oftentimes hostesses would quote a wait time followed by the phrase “or we have patio seating available immediately.” When restaurants had to modify their indoor dining capacity—with some closing it entirely—customers needed to be more open to outdoor seating if they wanted to go out to eat. Many restaurants got creative and decorated their outdoor spaces to make them more desirable. Because of these changes, many customers now prefer to sit outside. When indoor dining returns to full capacity, keep the interest in your patio by maintaining its décor and sociable atmosphere. A great addition to any outdoor space is setting up a CamBar. Click here to see how to use a CamBar to keep the vibe of your restaurant consistent whether your customers are seated inside or outside.
- Touchless Menus
Before the coronavirus, many restaurants provided plastic-covered menus to their customers. Generally, these menus were only disinfected once a day. So, a number of people touched the same menus all day until they were finally disinfected after closing. This was never an especially hygienic practice, plus these menus would get beat up and replaced quite frequently. Each time the menus ended up in the trash, restaurants contributed more waste and were left with less money. When restaurants realized sanitizing menus after each use was tedious, touchless menus changed their world for the better. Adding a QR Code to each table eliminates the need for extra cleaning and ensures no bacteria has been left behind. QR Codes are extremely affordable and fairly simple to create. If you’re a restaurant that rotates specials or seasonal menus, QR Codes make it easy to transition without extra costs or waste.
Offering reservations provides multiple benefits for both the restaurant and the guest. During the coronavirus, utilizing reservations allows restaurants to plan ahead and eases customer anxiety. When service returns to normal, guests with reservations give restaurants the opportunity to deliver a more enhanced experience than walk-ins. Most reservation systems allow guests to specify special requests and information. If a guest notes that they have an allergy, the kitchen can prepare ahead of time. If a guest is celebrating a birthday, it would go a long way to have something prepared upon their arrival.
Reservations not only impact the dining experience; they can affect a guest’s interaction with the restaurant afterward. Many reservation systems have the option of sending the guest a request to submit a review. A guest who has received stellar service is more likely to take advantage of this option and provide feedback that motivates a reader to give your restaurant a try.
- To-Go Alcoholic Beverages
Restaurant owners and customers alike were thrilled when states began legalizing the sale of alcoholic beverages to-go. During dining closures, it gave restaurants a way to increase their revenue and customers a way to enjoy their restaurants’ favorite cocktails responsibly at home. In Texas, a bill is in motion that could make alcohol to-go permanent. We wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more states moving in that direction. Using insulated beverage holders and tamper evident labels, restaurants are able to provide to-go cocktails and beer that stay cold and safe during transport. Delivery and takeout will continue a strong showing even after things start to return to normal. If states continue to allow restaurants to offer alcohol to-go, it could provide a nice nudge to your profits.
- Virtual Kitchen Concepts within Existing Restaurants
When delivery and takeout became our only way to eat out, virtual restaurants were given a chance to make a real impact on the foodservice industry. Virtual concepts weren’t anything new, but they became more mainstream when customers turned to social media and third-party apps for restaurant suggestions. Pre-existing kitchens supported virtual restaurants in two ways. Entrepreneurs could either create a restaurant within their restaurant themselves or rent out their kitchen so that somebody else could. Restaurants big and small took advantage of the chance to increase their profits. Many diners were shocked to find out Chuck E. Cheese was pulling the strings at virtual kitchen concept, Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings. In Washington state, restauranteur Brian Poag’s barbecue concept wasn’t pulling in enough money. He created Underground Burger and began offering a limited menu for takeout and delivery only. Click here to read how the idea exploded and unexpectedly became a huge success.
Despite their circumstances, many restaurants have been able to revise their practices to become stronger in the long run. Determine the best changes that have happened in your restaurant and use them to your advantage as conditions continue to adjust. Cambro products can support many of these initiatives. Contact your Cambro rep to find the best products to suit your needs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ADRIANA DESIDERIO IS THE DIGITAL CONTENT MANAGER AT CAMBRO.
Categories: FoodService News