What will restaurants look like post-pandemic?
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By Lorelei Yang, Countable News
- Alaska: diners must have reservations in advance of their meals
- Louisiana: no dine-in service, outdoor seating spaces opening without waitstaff and while continuing to observe social distancing measures
- New Hampshire: diners must have reservations in advance of their meals
- Texas: restaurants can reopen their dining rooms at 25% capacity
As the above shows, the reopening of restaurants is likely to be slow, painful, and difficult. With this in mind, it's worth asking, "What does the future of restaurants look like after the pandemic?"
Stepped-up hygiene protocols
Measures to ensure the health of diners and employees will be of paramount importance as long as COVID-19 remains a threat. These will likely include:
- Masks for diners and waitstaff
- Additional cleaning protocols
- Disposable menus
Reduced capacity, possibly forever
It's possible that COVID-19 will fundamentally alter the future of the in-restaurant experience. If diners never return to feeling comfortable sitting elbow-to-elbow with each other, there's a real chance spaced-out seating and reduced dining room capacities will become the new normal.
Naomi Pomeroy - owner of James Beard Award-winning fine-dining restaurant Beast, as well as Expatriate, a small bar across the street from it - expresses this fear in an interview with The Washington Post:
"Beast will never exist again. I had two communal tables where you sit right next to people you don’t know. I have to shut off a concept I spent 12 years building, and I don’t know yet what the next thing is going to be.”
Some possibilities facing restaurants in the future are:
- Dining room capacity reductions of 50% or more
- Significant reduction of bar seating capacity
- Early closing hours (e.g., legally enforced last call at 10 p.m.)
There's also a chance that restaurants' business models will have to fundamentally change. In a world where fewer people can - and want - to sit in a dining room, restaurants may:
- Pivot to take out as their primary business
- Transition to grab-and-go concepts
- Move to food trucks instead of brick-and-mortar locations
- Check customers' temperatures before allowing them to enter
- Discourage guests from congregating in bars or lobbies
- Limit menu options to boost margins
What do you think?
How do you think restaurants' businesses will change post-pandemic? Will changes need to put in place before you dine out again? Are you planning on returning to business-as-usual? Take action above, then share your thoughts below.
(Image Credit: iStockphoto.com / ClarkandCompany)
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