Pandemic-Style Restaurant Trends Here to Stay
The restaurant industry has been taken for a roller coaster ride the past 12 months, and nearly all establishments have had to make changes out of pure necessity. Even with the pandemic slowing down, and some restrictions being lifted, the effects of the pandemic will be felt in the restaurant industry for years to come. Here are four trends that, for better or worse, are here to stay.
On-site dining restrictions, stay-at-home orders, and public apprehension forced many restaurants to pivot to takeout and delivery at the beginning of the pandemic. Despite consumers slowly returning to restaurants, delivery and takeout options are still going to remain relevant. Many consumers have fallen in to the routine of eating out during the pandemic, with three in five U.S consumers ordering delivery or takeout at least once a week, with those numbers only expected to grow. At the end of the day, delivery and takeout is often easier, safer, and has come to be an expectation.
Restaurants have used outdoor dining as a workaround to the on-site dining restrictions and capacity limits in place in most states. But just like delivery and takeout, consumers are becoming used to outdoor dining, and in most cases, prefer it. As long as capacity restrictions remain in place, outdoor dining will continue to be a saving grace for restaurants. Even after restrictions are lifted and the pandemic is over, outdoor dining will be a way for restaurants to ensure consumers a safe dining experience.
Curbside pick-up and other contactless options
Personal contact is a grave concern for restaurants, and most have gone to great lengths to avoid it. Ghost kitchens, QR code menus, curbside pick-up, and touchless payments are just some of the ways restaurants are making it easier and safer for consumers to eat at their favorite restaurants. And the consumers have not let this effort go unnoticed - a preference for contactless payments, mobile ordering and curbside pick-up is starting to mount quickly.
Safety and sanitization was already a big part of the food industry, but the onset of the pandemic has forced many establishments to double down on their safety protocols. Owners who follow strict cleaning protocols don’t expect to abandon them anytime soon - other owners mention that consumers like it when their establishments offer masks, hand sanitizer, and otherwise prove that they take safety seriously. Like these other trends, cleanliness is what people have come to expect - a recent survey found that 94% of consumers expect cleanliness to be a standard and a priority, even after most people are vaccinated. The same survey found that 86% of people want to see proof that an establishment is cleaned effectively and regularly. The restaurant industry has dealt with massive losses over the last 12 months, but one thing they can’t afford to lose is customer trust over lazy or half-hearted health and safety protocols.
Adaptation has been the name of the game during the pandemic, and it’s clear many of these adaptations are not temporary changes. Need help navigating this new normal? Looking to take your infection prevention up a notch? We’re here to help. We service countless restaurants across the United States, and we’re ready to service yours.
Article written by Alex Pepper