Arizona Governor Doug Ducey gave the green light for restaurants to re-open dine-in service on May 11, 2020. Many patrons are now wondering what changes they will see in this post-COVID world. The shelter-in-place orders expire May 15. As consumers contemplate dining out, the question won’t be about the food, but more around the steps the restaurant has taken to ensure the health and safety of their patrons. I, for one, am thrilled to have the choice to get out and start supporting our local businesses again, and feel comfortable with the measurements that are being taken. In case you missed the press release, let’s take a look at 10 of the biggest changes for dining at restaurants you will see:
10 Changes for Dining at Restaurants Post-COVID
- Social Distancing will remain in place. Yes, social distancing is the biggest buzz word of the year and it is here to stay. What does it look like in a restaurant? Diners will be seated at every other table and groups will be limited to no more than 10 people. If you have to order at a counter, then you will see tape on the floor encouraging people to line up 6 feet apart from one another, much like you do currently at the grocery stores.
- Reduced occupancy. Clearly if you have to space out seating, you will see a reduction in capacity. Dining room may have a different layout in order to reduce the chances of having contact with other diners. Many establishments will have virtual waitlists and/or require reservations to manage occupancy. I have heard some say that if you arrive early or your table isn’t ready, you will have to wait in the car until the table is available. This would be to prevent people from gathering in groups. I suppose that is better than waiting outside in 110 degree summer heat.
- Continued reliance on pick-up and delivery orders. It goes without saying that restaurants are going to have to bridge the gap between expenses and less occupancy with a continued reliance on to-go, take out and delivery options. This also benefits those that are at risk for COVID and those who don’t feel comfortable dining out just yet. Plus, some places have stepped up their to-go services…check out my posts here and here for ideas for take out in the Phoenix area.
- No-touch customer service experience. You can already see this with the no-touch pick up zones, but let’s look at what else this could mean. You have planned to go out to eat and you made a reservation. The restaurant will alert you via text when your table is ready and upon arriving at the restaurant are seated immediately, bypassing any kind of host/hostess stand. Menus will either be disposable, on a chalkboard or accessible on your cell phone. There may even be a card on the table with a QR code that you can scan on your cell phone to access the menu and place your order, with spaces to add preferences or allergy accommodations. You could also pay for your meal with a click of a button on your cell phone, resulting in a completely contactless dining experience. This kind of experience would make me a little sad, personally, as I love the whole idea of “dinner as theatre”, especially for a special occasion.
- Single-use condiments and no-touch trashcans and doors.
- Increased sanitation protocols. This includes, for instance, thorough cleaning of seats and tables and other contact surfaces between seatings.
- Restaurant employees may wear personal protection equipment such as gloves and masks and will be trained on COVID-19 safety.
- Employees could be screened for COVID-19 prior to their shift by having their temperatures taken.
- Food and beverages may be passed between employees using contact-free methods.
- No more buffets. Out of all of the changes for dining at restaurants, this might be the most interesting…consider the scenario whether buffets are a thing of the past. The state now highly discourages instances where diners will be able to serve themselves. Take for instance San Antonio original Luby’s that has been in business for 65 years…it will be interesting to see how restaurants in this section change their business model.
Will you be dining out under these conditions? Drop me a line in the comment box and let me know. You will see me out for sure as I am curious as to how this will all transpire. In any case, please consider supporting your local businesses, for they need you now more than ever. In the meantime, eat well and stay well. xoM