How to prepare and adapt your food and beverage business after the COVID 19 pandemic
On any given Sunday, if the weather is in any way fine, we gather the kids and head for a walk along the river, the biggest bribe is the temptation of Pizza and Chips – and a glass of wine for the adults. We don’t just go for the food – or the bribe- it’s the relaxing outdoor setting, it’s the quiet buzz of the other customers and it’s the fact that I don’t have to go home and start cooking. To be honest, I didn’t think this would be one of the biggest things I missed as we squirrelled ourselves at home during the lockdown, and while it is great they provide a takeout service we are all left to wonder when and how can we get back to the restaurant in order to savour the rest of the experience!
Make more space
The most obvious change that restaurants, cafe’s and bars throughout the globe will need to implement in order to have a chance of survival is customer spacing and how staff and customers manoeuvre around the space. Separation tables are likely to be demanded, people are not going to sit shoulder to shoulder with strangers so quickly.
Seating to spread
Seating in restaurants and casual dining facilities will need to be spread out significantly! What all this boils down to is a drastically impacted floor plan resulting in a gross reduction in revenue per square foot, overall the industry stands to lose between 40-60% of their seating capacity! This is the major crunch on an industry that is most rated, and success is mostly determined by revenue per square foot, and that is a fact that poses the greatest threat!
Cleanliness and sterilisation
COVID-19 will not only affect consumers’ spatial awareness, it will also make them more aware of the cleanliness and sterilization surrounding food and drink preparation. What was the standard before the outbreak will no longer apply, and bar owners should be prepared for this shift? Many of the changes made will be unseen—in kitchens and processes typically out of sight of customers—it’s important that establishments communicate what they’re doing to protect and keep customers safe.
The idea that we should see a chef in a local take-out restaurant casually cooking a dish wearing simple plastic gloves and no face mask has become almost nauseating! Customers need to know that staff are going to wear gloves, hats, and PPE clothing. They want to know that kitchens are sanitized to the highest standards. They want to know that customer safety is of paramount importance to their business.
No menus post COVID 19?
Kitchens are going to need to become more sterile almost to the extent of operating theatres. While space reductions within the work zone will also have a negative effect on operations within the kitchen leading to a reduction of food offers so the days of vast menus are over, indeed the days of the printed menu are over!
What can you do now to prepare?
This is a time when there is no ‘one solution fits all’. Throughout the globe there is such diversity between individual cafes, bars & restaurant, they will all need to review their business and working model and adjust accordingly in order to satisfy an increasingly nervous customer. The better the industry understands and acknowledges customer concerns and are willing to address those needs and demands, the quicker the industry will return to normalcy and profitability.
The following are a number of options that restaurants and bars can consider and possibly implement in order to help them survive this unprecedented event:
- Increased spacing between tables and/or breaking up larger rooms into smaller sections.
- Movable screens to create sectioning between the seats.
- Greater access and visibility to hygienic products such as wipes and sanitisers on tables and in public areas.
- Customer toilets will require a high level of sanitation with visible and frequent sterilisation.
- Cutlery, glassware, and plates cleaned at tableside (or brought to the table packaged) for customer assurance.
- Removal of shared condiments that are provided either in packets or on-demand.
- Coverings over meal plates that are removed tableside.
- Pay-at-table functionality to avoid passing a credit card to a server.
- Offering e-receipts in lieu of paper.
- Digital menu boards or tablets with anti-microbial screens in lieu of paper menus.
- Antimicrobial upholstery and materials to furniture and fixtures where possible.
- There will undoubtedly be advances in the Commercial Cleaning Industry which shall become as rewarding a badge of honour as the much-coveted Michelin star!
- A dedicated take-out area is adjacent to the kitchen which is adaptable and can be shut off from the rest of the restaurant with automated barriers.
The Ghost Kitchen – Is this the post-covid winner?
One emergence from this global crisis could be the accelerated rise of the Ghost Kitchen: A ghost kitchen is a professional food preparation and cooking facility set up for the preparation of delivery-only meals. Not your average Friday night take out more fine dining delivered to your door. For one, restaurants can drastically cut their operating costs by having fewer employees and less square footage. Without having to wash serving dishes or set tables, the companies can streamline operations, innovate and focus on creating quality menu items. With a greater capacity to cater to individual customers requirement the Ghost kitchen with the right branding and marketing could be a clear winner.
The general consensus on the future of the restaurant and bar industry is somewhat bleak and one would be forgiven for feeling that customers will happily reside to the fact that their social life now revolves around homemade ‘restaurant-style’ dining, sanitised prosecco and bi-weekly Zoom pub quizzes, but as I look out the window in the midst of the lockdown I see people straining for human companionship.
I can’t but help feel that although there is a very steep mountain to climb, the one factor that is impossible to quash is the innate desire for human to human contact, socialising, celebrating, commiserating, it is in our DNA, therefore, we too shall be searching out a way to revisit our local establishments. I have no doubt that together we shall overcome this tremendous obstacle, in the fine words of one Irish journalist ‘ please open the pubs before we turn into alcoholics!!
Of course, every restaurant cafe and bar has and office these need thinking about too. Do you do all of your admin at home or for larger business what are the implications. Of course, we have an article on this very subject.
At Yellow Brick Road Design – Devon-based Domestic Interior Design and Commercial Interior Design & Project Management, we love to push the boat out on both our Commercial Interior Design and Domestic Interior Design Projects. We look forward to forging new relationships and we aim to work with all of our clients to create that individual space that will help them stand out from the crowd.