The world is adjusting to a new socially-distanced (and highly sanitized) normal, but restaurants aren’t out of the weeds just yet. Dining establishments have implemented innovative quick fixes to survive lockdowns and closures, but the future calls for long-term solutions.
Here are four ways restaurants can remain viable in a post-pandemic environment:
1. Prepare for possible re-closures
Restaurants have been allowed to reopen almost everywhere in the United States, but some counties are already facing new waves of closures as COVID-19 cases spike. In an era when flexibility is a necessity, stay prepared with takeout windows, delivery solutions, or food truck setups.
2. Stick together
As wholesale supply chains struggled at the onset of COVID-19, many restaurants turned to local producers for ingredients. These new hyper-local networks have helped to sustain local food and beverage businesses through tough times. A stronger local economy ultimately means more business for you, and a local supply chain might just come in handy if a new round of shutdowns hits your area.
3. Double down on digital efforts
For many restaurant owners, widespread lockdowns revealed a weak spot in the business plan: nonfunctional websites that lacked important capabilities.
Online shopping, also called e-commerce, has soared during the pandemic. Many restaurants found success in selling meal kits or shelf-stable products online. Others beat delivery service surcharges by relying on their own online ordering and transportation efforts. In short, restaurants with a smooth-running website had a running start.
Additionally, the importance of digital marketing has increased as consumers continue to spend more time online. Spending some time and energy on your social media presence and your online marketing efforts can widen your audience, leading more hungry customers to your menu.
4. Continue to make indoor and outdoor dining spaces safe and enjoyable
Most restaurants have found ways to navigate coronavirus restaurant restrictions such as table spacing and seating limits, but haphazard solutions won’t cut it much longer.
Diners are ready for a sense of normalcy, and merging style with safety is the best way to make that happen:
Stylish partitions and decorative barriers can replace any existing plastic workarounds to create a space that is branded, aesthetically pleasing, and safe and comfortable for diners.
Rearrange your seating to create social distancing for restaurants that doesn’t feel overly bleak or sterile. Avoid leaving individual tables in poorly-lit or obscured areas. Establish walkways to areas like restrooms or counters that prevent people from passing too close to other diners. Aim for a setup that maintains the social experience of dining out, while adhering to local regulations.
Utilize clear and ample signage throughout the restaurant. Signs can help direct takeout customers and delivery service workers to the right areas, explain PPE and social distancing guidelines, mark best paths to restrooms, and demonstrate the efforts you’re taking to create a safe dining environment.
Prepare for cool weather. Restaurants have relied heavily on outdoor dining to maintain table counts and adhere to government regulations.
As seasons change, consider investing in outdoor restaurant solutions such as heating elements for patios and outdoor waiting areas. Locations without covered patios can install outdoor barriers for restaurants, providing some protection from the elements.
Throughout the pandemic, one truth remains clear: business owners are flexible, resilient, and innovative people. At Exhibit Options, we’ve been honored to provide high-quality and attractive custom solutions that help restaurants thrive through uncertain times. Don’t hesitate to reach out for safety, signage, and partition ideas. Our experts are here to help!