Recovery Underway as Restaurant Merchants Reopen for Dining
As the pandemic slows down, restaurant merchants may heat up. It’s a day they’ve been waiting for over the last few months. When the economy shut down and restaurants shut their doors, it was a mad scramble to figure things out. Some restaurants survived on curbside service and delivery, but many had to remain closed.
What’s next now that restaurants reopen for dining?
There will be Smaller Crowds
Restaurants opening their doors can’t do so at full capacity. Many can’t even do it at half capacity. It depends on your state’s legislation. The goal is to offer a sense of ‘normalcy’ while maintaining a safe distance. Many states allow only 10 people in a certain amount of square space. All states require at least a 6-foot distance between tables per the CDC guidelines. But many limit their maximum capacity to 20 – 30 percent of normal allowances.
Outdoor Seating will be Popular
The warm summer months give restaurant merchants an advantage. Many offer outdoor seating even if they don’t have designated areas for it. Some states allow the use of the parking lots and other common areas for this purpose. It gives customers a way to ‘get out’ without risks. Customers can enjoy full-service dining in the fresh air and away from others.
Bars Remain Closed
In many states, bars remain closed. The only exception is those bars that can operate outdoors and with a 6-foot distance between tables. No states predict when bars will reopen as it’s harder to social distance in such a close environment.
Curbside Delivery Remains Popular
As restaurants open their doors, to limited numbers of diners, many customers still want the contactless service they’ve enjoyed throughout the pandemic. Curbside delivery was a luxury that only a few restaurants offered pre-pandemic. Now, it’s the norm. Customers don’t want to come in if they don’t have to. This gives restaurant merchants more to think about. Their business model may change from primarily dine-in customers to a heavy curbside delivery demand. With a lower dine-in presence, finding new ways to be profitable is crucial.
Table Barriers may be a Thing
Many restaurant merchants are thinking outside of the box. They know keeping a 6-foot distance between tables won’t keep them profitable. Small areas don’t allow for many tables. Rather than removing tables, these restaurant owners are installing barriers, such as plastic shower curtains. Staff can disinfect the curtains in between tables and run them through the dishwasher each night. All restaurant owners must be creative. If they want to survive, it’s about changing the structure. The restaurants we knew and loved may look different but still offer the same delicious food. Those that adapt to the times and give customers what they want and need will survive. It felt like a never-end cycle, but we’re seeing the other side.
How it looks and who comes out on top is yet to be determined. In the meantime, we can all work together to save our restaurants.