6 Changes To The Restaurant Landscape That Are Here To Stay
The COVID-19 pandemic has irrevocably altered the restaurant landscape. As vaccines become increasingly available around the world, guests are hungry to return to regular life. Still, while various places around the world have different COVID-19 measures, it’s imperative for public safety that the restaurant industry remains vigilant to help curb any further outbreaks. Even with quarantine restrictions slowly receding, COVID-19 has ensured a new normal and one that promises to persevere for the foreseeable future. Join us as we reflect on the six most significant restaurant changes resulting from the pandemic.
#1 Capacity Maximums
Since quarantine lockdowns, restaurants can accept only a limited number of people depending on the building size and varying in limitations depending on where you are. With social distancing, the restaurant landscape shifted again, allowing only a set maximum of customers. These maximums challenged sales but inspired innovation. Restaurateurs expanded their outdoor seating options, developing their patio space into places that their guests could safely congregate. While the winter proved difficult, enterprising owners and operators employed heated tents and igloos to stave off the cooler months.
Likewise, restaurant technologies have helped to minimize the logistical difficulties brought on by capacity maximums. Guest management tools have proved invaluable in mitigating incoming traffic, especially for businesses that utilized reservation management as a tool to help stem and account for the volume of potential guests. For customers on-premise, order management systems have transformed parking lots into even more outdoor seating, turning curbside options from pickup to date night.
#2 Mobile Apps and Delivery
Currently, there are 4.78 billion unique mobile users, and 73.2% of them own smartphones. Since pandemic lockdowns, the restaurant landscape changed to better represent that demographic, shifting off-premise dining from a strategic priority to an operational necessity. Research indicates that consumers have embraced off-premise dining more than ever before and have grown accustomed to those options. To satisfy this demand, restaurants have created special mobile apps for ease of ordering and delivery, rather than betting on third-party services.
These sites have evolved to include their current menu, prices, pictures of the dishes, online payment methods, and many more in an effort to keep visitors engaged and coming back for seconds. Online orders boost the customers’ engagement rate and increase sales several times. Remember that good restaurant web design drives traffic.
#3 Strict Sanitation Measures
While cleanliness has long been imperative to the restaurant landscape as a whole, sanitation has come under intense scrutiny since the beginning of the pandemic. To satisfy this need for enhanced sanitation, restaurateurs have learned to deep clean their surfaces and technologies alike, to keep everything as germ-free as possible. Your guests expect a deeper cleaning regimen, and fortunately, there are technologies to help. Contactless technologies allow you to satisfy customers hands-free, without anyone having to get too close to one another. In kitchens and elsewhere in restaurants, technologies like recipe viewers can be used to train on proper cleaning techniques, while platforms with a robust kitchen display system (KDS) can be programmed with routine reminders for cleaning.
#4 Contactless Ordering and Payment Options
With so many concerns over viral transmission, the restaurant landscape has shifted to something much more hands-off. As we mentioned above, contactless ordering allows customers to place their orders without close contact with restaurant workers or other customers. Guests scan QR codes on their table with their devices and place their orders digitally. That information is transmitted to the back-of-house (BOH), where kitchen staff prepare orders and hand them off to servers. This method minimizes physical contact and is more practical to escape from long queues. At the end of their dining journey, guests can often even pay with existing online payment methods.
#5 Lock, Stock, and Barrel
While pandemic lockdowns were a financial challenge to everyone involved, undeniably altering the restaurant landscape. With the industry losing approximately $240b, restaurateurs anxiously pivoted to anything that would help innovate their business and keep them afloat. For some, that meant selling their stocks online, which has become a rich market. For others, that meant transitioning to groceries, virtual date nights, and beyond, all to keep guests interested and the lights on.
#6 Increased Social Media Presence
With approximately 10% of all restaurants permanently closed due to the pandemic, public visibility is an important way to get the word out about your business. While social media was already part of the restaurant landscape, the pandemic has increased how restaurateurs use various social media platforms to their advantage. For example, last summer, many businesses used their social media presence to promote socio-economic equity in the face of global protests. Elsewhere, some owners and operators have even used their platform to advertise other restaurants in an effort to help the community as a whole. Altogether, these efforts increase a business’s overall social proof, which in turn builds trust and rapport with your potential guests.
Conclusion: Changes to the Restaurant Landscape
While we don’t know for sure how long the pandemic will continue, we do know that some of these changes to the restaurant landscape are here to stay. These challenges have proven difficult for many, but have also shown the grit and perseverance of an industry at the frontline of socio-political change. Are there any other changes or innovations that you’ve loved through the pandemic? Let us know in the comments section below.
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About the Author
Nara Nazaryan is the Content Manager at Digital Growth Formula. She is a digital marketing specialist with more than 5 years of experience in the field and more than 10 in the banking and financial spheres. She is an obsessed reader and content writer. Her hobbies include coding, astronomy, physics, and following the latest scientific discoveries.