The coronavirus pandemic has changed virtually every aspect of our daily lives, and in particular the restaurant industry. While restaurant owners and industry leaders work to figure out the safest ways to return to regular service, customers should expect some changes to the restaurant experience. So, how will your favorite restaurant change?
More Outdoor Dining Opportunities
One aspect of the restaurant industry that has seen significant growth is outdoor dining. Many local health departments are allowing restaurants to make use of expanded outdoor dining areas – even if they previously had no designated outdoor dining space – in order to avoid overcrowded indoor dining areas. While you may prefer the air-conditioning found inside, al fresco dining will see a significant rise in popularity as the summer (and the pandemic) drags on.
Socially Distant Dining Rooms
For those restaurants who are resuming their indoor dining services, customers can still expect changes to the dining room. In order to keep patrons as separated as possible, most restaurants are either limiting capacity of their indoor dining area and/or spreading tables further apart. Some owners have even started to install physical barriers between eating areas in order to keep parties separate.
Some restaurants are taking additional steps and training their employees on how to enforce health and safety measures with their customers. This may include requiring patrons to wear a face mask when not seated at their table, limiting party sizes, using cashless payment systems and/or bussing their own tables.
Significant Menu Changes
The physical and social aspect of the dining out experience may not be the only thing that changes in the restaurant industry. Customers should be aware that there may be significant changes to their local favorites’ menus due to the pandemic. For instance, the Food and Drug Administration recommends that all restaurants suspend their self-serve salad bars, beverage stations and buffet stations. Many restaurants are shifting their self-serve models by having employees fill plates for customers in order to minimize the impact on high-touch areas.
Some restaurant owners have also felt coronavirus’s impact on America’s food supply chain. Due to significant interruptions in the nation’s meat industry, many restaurants are adding plant-based and seafood-based proteins. Other restaurants are choosing to pare down their menus entirely in order to save on the cost of ingredients as they begin to recover from lost earnings during the closure.
While these are big changes for customers, remember that restaurants are doing their best to keep all patrons as safe as possible during this global health crisis. Be sure to show your support and gratitude to your local restaurants as small businesses continue to open up around the country.