The Restaurant Industry is Opening Back up – so, What’s Next?

We all miss stopping at our favorite spots for lunch or sitting down for dinner and drinks that don’t involve the kids. The servers will soon be complaining about side work while bartenders roll their eyes when someone wants a Bloody Mary at 9pm. 

We’ll get there soon. Until then, life is a work in progress. Every industry has been disrupted, but probably none harder than the restaurant industry. The coronavirus impacted an estimated $225B in sales, which is crazy. Over 30K restaurants closed their doors. 110K other establishments have been trying to find a workable solution. From servers to the supply chain, everything has been upended in the wake of the coronavirus and social distancing measures taken to combat its spread

Will it be safe to eat in your favorite restaurant?

There will be federal, state, and local regulations to deal with, and those will be ever-changing, just like everything else in the Twilight Zone episode. 

Restaurant owners are going to have to continue to make adjustments in order to operate. While everyone is adjusting to the rules of social distancing and keeping our hands clean, there are a few other precautions that we’ll likely start becoming the norm. Some of these precautions won’t be forever. Some might stick around to keep spaces sanitary. But, no matter what, as the doors are opening back up, things will look slightly different. 

Wear your mask 

We’ll be seeing servers in face masks and temperatures checked at the door. The rules are strict for the foreseeable future. People are going to have to follow the rules or risk not being allowed to grab their favorite tacos. 

The new business model

Curbside and home delivery is a permanent part of the business now. People are used to these options now and expect them. 

One thing we probably won’t see surging back anytime soon is the kiosk. People won’t want to touch anything, they’ll either want to order via their phone, by a person or by calling the order in. 

Sanitation on another level

The restaurant industry has always dealt with bacteria and unclean surfaces; it’s the nature of the business. We’re going to see a lot of full-time sanitation people, whose job will be to make sure every surface is sanitary.

Another idea floating around is a color-coded chemical system for disinfecting silverware and plates like a bar uses for glasses. Disposable cutlery and disposable drinkware will be a thing, too. We’re seeing different combinations of seating arrangements and plans to get customers moving in and out with little contact. 

Paper menus 

We’re an Austin-based company. We’re as green as they come. But, while we’re figuring out how COVID-19 lasts on surfaces with multiple people touching them, disposable paper menus will be the norm for a while. They’re just easier to deal with rather than continually disinfecting them as people enter the door. 

Plexiglass dividers 

Plexiglass dividers will be another thing we’ll probably see more and more of, at least for the time being. They’re not the prettiest to look at, but they effectively separate tables and booths and are relatively easy to sanitize quickly. 

The new normal will be a little different 

Some places might open on a reservation-only basis. Most will likely designate specific doors for entering and exiting, creating a pathway to prevent unnecessary contact between guests. The kitchen staff will also be in masks and gloves, which isn’t ideal in high heat, but these are weird times. Until we’ve got a clear plan in place on taking the coronavirus head-on, these are just things the industry will have to do.

Once the coronavirus hit the states, we saw it first-hand. Adia has worked with the restaurant industry since our inception, so it’s a subject that’s near and dear to our hearts. We’re rooting for the public to come back and eat. We love the culture, the people, and the business of dining. It’s always been an area we’ve enjoyed helping managers and owners solve for, and we look forward to helping restaurants ramp up when the time comes.

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