What Diners Want and How Restaurants Can Give it to Them

Restaurants across the country are experiencing a Spring awakening. More and more customers are returning to dining rooms and restrictions are relaxing more than they have since the coronavirus pandemic began. However, don’t expect everything to go back as they once were. To get a better perspective on the future of dining, OpenTable partnered with the James Beard Foundation to survey more than 21,000 diners and nearly 300 restaurant industry professionals in the US and Canada in February 2021. We examine what information they found and what that means for your business.

  1. For here or to-go?

OpenTable found that 91 percent of diners want restaurants to keep offering takeout and delivery after the pandemic ends. If you’re a restaurant that didn’t previously offer your food to-go, it’s recommended that you continue offering this option. Your biggest challenge with offering takeout and delivery is to maintain the same level of quality your guests receive inside your restaurant. By now, you’ve likely had similar complaints and hopefully you’ve figured out how to prevent them.

Two of the most common complaints: food temperature and forgotten items. Use Delivery GoBags® or GoBoxes® to maintain the temperature of hot or cold menu items; both products are affordable, durable and lightweight. Ensure accuracy by training employees to check every single order before it goes out—no matter how busy they are. Place a StaySafe Tamper Evident Label on your containers after they’ve been checked as an indicator and to provide peace of mind for customers.

BONUS: Don’t snooze on booze! 52 percent of respondents said they want restaurants to continue offering wine and beer to-go, 46 percent want cocktails and bar kits and 42 percent enjoy meal kit offerings.

  1. Let’s go out.

With Covid-19 numbers continuing to decrease, diners are feeling more confident about returning to dining out. Be prepared for business to boom this summer.  OpenTable found that 33 percent of respondents expect to resume their prior dining out habits by September. Although many people eat their food off-premise, restaurants are still a major way people want to socialize. After being cooped up for months on end, one third of respondents said connecting with family and friends is the top thing they’re looking forward to when eating out.

Prepare your business for increased demand by continuing to offer reservations. Not only does it allow for social distancing, it gives guests a better experience overall. If your customer is just starting to get used to going out again, you want them to have the best experience possible. Haven’t had your private dining rooms used in a while? OpenTable suggests highlighting private dining experiences for holidays, like Father’s Day, graduations and birthdays.

  1. Patio please!

If there’s something that’s more popular at your restaurant than ever before, it’s outdoor dining! Remember when hostesses used to tell guests, “It’ll be 45 minutes or I can seat you immediately on the patio?” In many places, the opposite is true now. 82 percent of respondents said they want restaurants to continue to increase outdoor seating in 2021. For the summer, that means awnings, tents, fans and misters. Make your outdoor seating an oasis! For most restaurants, outdoor seating isn’t very close to the main bar. Add a CamBar to your patio or outdoor seating area to keep drinks refilled quickly and easily. For restaurants with a long wait time, set up a CamBar in the waiting area for guests to purchase drinks while they wait. Guests are always in a better mood when they have a cocktail in their hand!

Take these customer insights and use them to your advantage. Using these survey results, your business can increase sales and get back to pre-Covid-19 success. Contact your Cambro rep to find the best products to suit your restaurant’s needs and design.


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