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How restaurants will change following the coronavirus pandemic

restaurant business furniture
(© Prostock-studio

It’s fair to say that the hospitality industry has been struck harder than many others when it comes to the last 12 months. Not only have restrictions been put in place, limiting capacities and putting curfews on sales, it’s also led to fewer customers on the basis that the virus has really lowered public confidence in using such amenities.

It’s having a crippling effect on businesses, with many now struggling to survive. But for those that do it will also have a lasting effect on how they operate moving forward in order to put customers at ease and feel confident in their environment.

So, what could change?

Offering customers more space

One of the key things will be offering customers more space. At many restaurants across the county, such as Vito’s Italian in Harrisonburg, they’ve had to open with 50 percent capacity in order to ensure customers are meeting social distancing regulations and that could continue once things are back up and running as “normal”.

That will certainly be the case in the immediate aftermath, as restaurants look to build public confidence, but it will also become something that the diner is used to and the days of cramming tables in side by side will likely be long gone.

That could also lead to customers being offered bigger tables as there is more space in the restaurant, with the number of larger commercial tables being sold across the last 12 months having increased to cope with this new type of dining experience.

This will likely be a huge boost to a diner’s experience, as they will feel more enclosed within their group from a safety perspective, but also for the sake of comfort, conversation and privacy.

More takeaway & dine-in

While takeaway services aren’t new for some restaurants, the pandemic has led to many offering it for the very first time in order to stay afloat. Back in march the county were allowing restaurants to sell food and alcohol by delivery and such has been the success, in many cases that it could continue when restaurants are back open at full capacity.

It’s another string to their bow and during the early phases of “normality” could be a key marketing tool in encouraging diners back out, essentially giving customers the opportunity to try food before actively going into the restaurant.

What’s more, if restaurants do decide to ditch tables for good in order to give customers more space, then offering takeaway as well will bridge the gap on any income lost from the missing covers.

Sanitation stations

Alongside more space and more precautions when delivering food, we’re also likely to see a much better handle on hygiene in all parts of a restaurant.

Sanitation stations and hand sanitizer on every table has been an integral part of operations in more recent times, and while it may not be as stringent as that when we do return to normality, there will likely be more opportunities to wash and clean hands, as well as more frequent cleaning and checks of restrooms.

What is likely to be seen is sanitation points, where both customers and staff can visit to clean their hands on a regular basis. This is going to be a huge step in building consumer confidence and ensuring people feel safe when they do return to restaurants more regularly across Virginia.

Story by Adam Richman

augusta free press
augusta free press