The restaurant is much more than a food business. It is a space for meetings, for people to get together, a space where social life flows. Going out to eat is almost always the perfect excuse to party, to meet friends, to be entertained. And that is precisely the meeting point of coronavirus and restaurant.
Restaurants are already thinking of new models to implement in the wake of the coronavirus. Even if the pandemic weakens biologically, its consequences will still be present in the form of fear. The organization of the canteen changes, the routines of attention to the public change, the plans for disinfection and hygiene change. Reopening will mean opening the doors and the system of operation to a different reality, to which one must adapt in order to remain.
The idea that social distancing is the main means of prevention against the coronavirus is very much in the minds of people. So much emphasis is placed on the meter and a half distance that it is unthinkable to approach others. And even if the restrictive measures begin to soften, they will still be in place in most people’s minds.
Safety and sanitation will be a differentiating element that will define the competitiveness of restaurants. Those who decide to go out to eat will not only look at the menu, but also, and especially, at the conditions of prevention. And, of course, the prices.
Customers are very informed and very attentive, so it is not a question of “making up” the restaurant with apparent safety measures. Safety must be real, supported by good practices and with maximum transparency.
The coronavirus is imposing new values. This new way of valuing means that the restaurants that will respond best to the crisis will be those that are able to generate confidence. How is confidence generated? By making the customer feel that he is cared for, that all measures have been taken to ensure his well-being, that the establishment has everything in place to ensure a pleasant and healthy experience.
Changes in the kitchen
Although it has been explained that the coronavirus is not transmitted by food, there will always be concern among diners about the conditions in which the dish is prepared. Will there be kitchen staff who sneeze? Will they work with masks that prevent saliva drops from reaching the food when they speak? Will the necessary precautions be taken with the purchase of raw materials? Details that no one thought before will haunt them. Therefore, the protocol inside the kitchen must be extreme in terms of disinfection and hygiene.
It will be a good idea to present videos and photos on social networks and on the web, showing the new working protocols. And, why not, allow customers to observe the kitchen from a window, for example.
Changes in the room
The reduced capacity forces us to think about redistributing the tables. The separation of diners and wide corridors are the focus of attention. It will be necessary to reduce the attention at the bars and ensure the distance between those customers who always prefer them; maybe is time to show them more cozy and comfortable restaurant chairs. The technology to show the restaurant’s menu, taking orders and for payment, which avoids close contact between staff and customers, will be a good tool for the times to come.
Changing the relationship with the diner
The restaurant needs to continue being the industry of happiness and experiences. And for that, in this new reality, it will need much more than good cooks, waiters and room managers. The key to achieving this is to maintain engagement, the bond that will make the customer feel at the center of the restaurant. This contact will generate the confidence he needs to feel good outside the house.
Probably nothing will ever be the same again, that is the constant of humanity after a crisis. But it is always possible to reinvent yourself and find new models to ensure success.