There were many things that were taken away from us during the pandemic that we realise we took for granted beforehand. Restaurants, cafes and bars were definitely one of them. They were where much of our social life took place, where our biggest family events were celebrated, where you can experience different cultures and cuisines. But the industry suffered, badly. Many restaurants in the UK didn’t just close for lockdown, they closed for good. The ones that did survive almost all switched to takeaway and delivery just to see money in the till. In London, the country’s food metropolis, the shutters were down from Whitechapel to the Kensington.
Covid-19 has also shown us that the industry is on thin ice. As tourism returns, flights are fit to fly and rules are lifted, the restaurant industry has had to adapt- but could now be through the worst. They may however, never be the same again. Here’s three ways that restaurants have adapted that may already seem like the new normal:
Increased Focus On Hygiene
The coronavirus pandemic may already be behind us to an extent, but anxieties around cleanliness and sanitation may always remain.
While cleanliness and sanitation have always been a priority for restaurants since their inception, yet recent events standards have certainly risen and don’t look like falling anytime soon.
In a 2020 study by OpenTable, 93% of those polled said hand-washing was extremely important feature of a restaurant with Covid at its peak.
72% also stated strict cleaning policies in restaurants as a factor that would make them feel safe and more likely to dine in since reopening.
Clear communication of strict cleaning regimes could now be a deciding factor in a customer’s decision to dine with many restaurants in the present industry.
Ways that restaurants are now as “corona-proof” as they can be:
- Carefully arranged floor plans to accommodate social distancing and keep groups at least 6 ft apart
- Limit contact by offering contactless payment options
- Make sure all their air ducts and vents are clean and operating properly to allow proper flow of air
- Regularly clean and sanitise high contact areas like handrails, door handles and toilet doors.
- Provide easy access to hand sanitiser to both employees and customers in various locations around the restaurant
Ordering At The Table
Going out and ordering by the table was often a novelty (or you were just in Wetherspoons) before the pandemic. Now though, it’s a thing of the present and many restaurants won’t return to bar ordering where possible.
Many people prefer ordering at the table and using an app or a QR code, so this is a change that will be welcomed for years to come and a good- even if forced- pull into the 21st century of dining.
Takeaway a Permanent Feature
With restaurants not allowed to open their doors to visitors to sit down, many were forced to make the decision to adapt to a takeaway system or close for good. Companies such as Slerp have seen a huge uptake in their online ordering system for restaurants being used by restaurants who before didn’t have the capacity or turned their nose up at offering a takeaway.
As much as restaurants all want people through the door and sitting down eating on the premises, having the option of a takeaway may interest a consumer who still doesn’t feel comfortable going out in public spaces when they don’t have to.
We are in uncharted waters: the industry has never been through anything like this before, and all signs point to the likelihood that restaurants as we know them aren’t coming back for a while- if at all. To move forward, these changes and more have been put in place and have all had the impact they needed. Many believe the industry is in a much better place than before the pandemic and has exceeded expectations in recovery. Restaurants may never be the same again, and that’s fine with us?