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Give Customers What They Now Expect: Safe and Happy Dining

You are open for business again, but are customers going to feel comfortable visiting? The difficult question is how to open a restaurant safely?

Ensuring that your restaurant meets the new safety expectations of customers who are dining during the pandemic is critical to remaining operational and reducing your business’ risk of an outbreak.

While geographies have handled post-pandemic reopening strategies differently, the inevitable demand for patron safety remains across most jurisdictions. As a business owner in a food service environment, it is important to anticipate and implement what your customers will want to see as part of their dining experience to help keep them safe.

Earlier this year, as published in Forbes, “In an online survey of roughly 2,500 Canadians and Americans over the age of 18, Leger and The Association for Canadian Studies found that if social distancing were reduced to 1 meter, only 40 per cent of respondents said they were comfortable dining in restaurants, and a mere 21 per cent were comfortable going to bars, lounges, night clubs or pubs.”

That begs the question: What are guests expecting to see in my restaurant to keep them safe and healthy?

In most cases, you should be prepared to offer diners the following things:

Not only are digital menus convenient, but they also help reduce the spread of germs by limiting the amount of paper floating around at a table. By sticking a QR code on the table, guests can simply take out their phone, scan the code, and browse your menu instantly. You may also want to make your Wifi password publicly available – so people can browse your elaborate menu without worry of using their data plan.

  • Contactless payments

Contactless payments were trending, but with slow adoption, prior to COVID – due to their convenience. However, they are now in higher demand than ever.

Chick-fil-A is just one of the many large chains shifting to a cashless model, and some brands are abandoning cash completely. Contactless payments can include payments using mobile wallets, Apple Pay and Google Pay. They also include tap of credit cards on PIN pad devices, ensuring the credit or debit card never needs to change hands or make physical contact with a device.

Interestingly enough, the convenience and safety benefits presented by tap-and-go cards do not compromise security. Both EMV credit cards and contactless payment credit cards are more secure than magstripe cards, as outlined by BluePay.

The best way to find out if your business or existing equipment can support this technology is by speaking to your POS or payments provider.

  • Order-ahead and take out opportunities

Some diners still don’t feel comfortable to sit and dine in your restaurant, so you should accommodate them with order-ahead through online applications and by offering take out. There are a number of delivery partners such as UberEats and DoorDash, or, you can utilize a partner like UEAT or Tacit Innovations to get you set up with your own custom branded page (and save on third-party delivery fees!).

  • Reservations and capacity management

Ensuring your restaurant does not get overcrowded is critical to helping people feel safe and maintain an appropriate level of distance between one another. By implementing reservations and other capacity management tools, you can manage the influx of customers properly. In addition, these tools help you ensure you have adequate staff on hand based on the number of tables booked.

Many jurisdictions have mandatory mask policies, where masks must be worn while guests are not seated. Having some disposable masks on hand is a good way to ensure that even if someone leaves their mask at home, they don’t need to be turned away from your restaurant.

Placing sanitizer bottles at your entrances and on the tables is a great way to help provide guests additional comfort in the extended cleaning measures you have likely implemented at your dining venue, and is a small price to pay for some much-needed comfort.

Temperature screening kiosks are also a great addition, providing flags and alerts for guests that may have temperatures above normal. An investment in these kiosks will go a long way in your brand’s reputation as a safe place to be.

With dining looking different going forward, these expectations are going to be at the top of most people’s minds as they enter restaurants, cafeterias and other dining venues. Implement these to help your business, its staff and its patron stay safe and well-fed as we navigate the pandemic.

Shannon Moyes

Business Development Manager – Volanté Systems

Learn more about how Volanté can help your business.