How To Reopen Your Restaurant After COVID-19

May 27, 2020
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The coronavirus has changed consumer expectations for eating out.

A new normal for restaurants

Though the coronavirus has altered the food-service landscape in favor of take-out and delivery, dine-in is central to many restaurants’ business models moving forward. For restauranteurs, the question is now how to balance emerging third-party delivery services with the traditional dine-in model. Though these delivery platforms will be an ever-larger portion of restaurant revenue, we predict dine-in will drive over 80% of revenues for the average restaurant.

Restaurants must now think about how to navigate their state’s regulations for physical dining in order to keep their employees and customers safe, and how to effectively communicate this with their guests.

Adjusting to new regulations

The regulations proposed by states for their restaurants are comprehensive and are designed to ensure maximum safety. For instance, the Washington State regulations are a full three pages long.

Aside from the regulations that stipulate actual physical distancing, which are constrained by the literal physical space available in a restaurant, restauranteurs must also think about how to limit three main risks:

  1. 🚨 Problem: Cash and Physical Credit Cards

    The physical exchange of cash and credit cards are the most dangerous items when it comes to viruses. They are passed around frequently and pose a grave hazard to both employees and customers.

    💡 Solution:

    Mobile payments are the emerging technology that allow restaurants to get away from physical payment mechanisms. By allowing customers to pay from their own smartphones, risk is significantly reduced, and the process is streamlined.

  2. 🚨 Problem: Physical Menus

    Similar to the physical payment issue, menus are passed around frequently and pose potential dangers to both employees and patrons. The presentation and content of a menu is something that most restaurants put a significant amount of time and effort into and any potential solution must preserve the initial thought and effort that has gone into its design.

    💡 Potential solutions:
    There are a few potential alternatives to physical menus, some better than others.

    • Menu boards positioned around the restaurant for easy sightlines are possible for a few restaurants and are a simple fix. However, due to space and design constraints, this is not always possible and may be aesthetically distracting. 🚫

    • Single-use paper menus that are disposed of after each use is another alternative to multi-use laminated menus. These are difficult and expensive to re-print and design. 🚫

    • Digital / virtual menus allow your customers to pull up your menu on their own smartphones, conserving costs. By creating a digitally optimized menu, design costs are minimized, and safety is maximized.

  3. 🚨 Problem: Extended Waiter Interactions

    Service is the core of universally any dine-in experience and COVID has made this an especially difficult situation to navigate. Regular customers often develop personal relationships with wait-staff and are part of the reason they continually return to your establishment. Now, waiters with masks and gloves are the new normal and these personal relationships will be difficult to develop as diners will be wary of any extended and intimate contact.

    💡 Solution:

    Mobile ordering and payment are the simplest solutions to minimizing waiter contact. Though perhaps not ideal for restaurants with high-touch service, this is the simplest way to minimize person-to-person interactions. If this is not an option, a model in which a single waiter interacts with a table exclusively, for ordering, service, and bussing is the second-best plan.

Communicating with customers

Seeing as 90% of diners research a restaurant online before dining (more than any type of business), having a clear safety plan will be essential in re-opening. Previously, diners would research things like menu items, reviews, and prices; now they will be looking at safety protocols the restaurant has put in place.

By indicating the steps that your restaurant is taking to ensure the safety of customers on your website and social media channels, potential customers will be made more comfortable with dining out at your spot. Also, communicating with diners about the safety of your restaurant when they arrive will help boost the quality of reviews your restaurant receives online.

Moreplate: an all-in-one solution

Moreplate is a digital ordering and payment platform that improves restaurant safety and boosts order values. By allowing customers to reserve tables, and then order and pay at the table from their smartphones when they arrive, you can maintain a regulation-compliant environment while preserving the level of quality and service your patrons have come to expect. Click here to learn more.