COVID-19 has forced restaurants to innovate beyond measure to ensure guest safety!

Restaurants are stepping up to get back diners!

People are increasingly becoming frustrated with the pandemic, itching every single day to go back to their favorite restaurant and eat that favorite dish! While some have, other trudge cautiously!

Everyone I have interacted over the past few days has the same rant: When will COVID-19 get over? We should contract it so that when we have antibodies, at least we can get back to our routine, pre-COVID lives.

They want to go out and party, eat, travel, etc., everything they did pre-COVID.

While a few have become fearless and do not really give a damn if they contract the virus for the umpteenth time, many are still cautious!

Fact check: You can get COVID again, you’re not entirely immune till a vaccine is out!

The restaurant industry has also been severely hit by the ongoing pandemic. Over the past few months, hotels have reopened, but recovery of the business is slow because people are happier ordering in than going to hotels to eat. Reason: fear of contracting COVID-19!

Some hotels are getting guests to full capacity, but are having other issues: Restrictions on the number of guests, travel restrictions by local governments, shortage of hotel staff, etc.

Even while state governments are increasingly promoting state tourism, people seem to be trudging cautiously, but only visiting restaurants that are relatively safe and have all sanitization measures in place!

Dineout, a restaurant-tech platform, says they have recovered about 60% of its pre-COVID business. By the end of the year, they hope to reach 100%. They say:

- Delhi, Bangalore, and Ahmedabad are fastest towards normalcy: 70% recovery rate

- Chennai, Jaipur, Kolkata, and Hyderabad: 55% recovery rate

- Mumbai and Pune have seen a week on week increase of 10x since restaurants opened!

Note: Not all restaurants are listed on Dineout. It should not be considered as a hitherto benchmark for the industry!

Dineout has also been running #SAFETOEATOUT. Message: Restaurants are reinventing their business models by introducing new and innovating ways to make customers feel safe, including attributing social distancing between tables and ensuring proper hygiene.

Dineout’s #SAFETOEATOUT campaign | Source: youtube

Here are a few ways restaurants are going about welcoming customers back:

Staff wearing masks and basic hygiene: Restaurants across Kolkata are strictly ensuring that staff are always wearing face masks while attending to guests. They are screening guests temperatures and ensuring their hands are sanitized before guests go to the table!

Table sanitization: Restaurants like Sly Fox Gastro Club in Kolkata are sanitizing tables after every guest leaves.

Private dining pods: Dragonfly restaurant at Aerocity, New Delhi has created private dining pods. These pods are made of hard acrylic walls and can accommodate 10 to 12 people.

Dragonfly restaurant have created private dining pods to ensure guest safety | Image: mediabrief

Robot experience: Restaurants like Robot Restaurant in Bangalore and Jaipur have robots serving food to reduce and minimize human contact! (This was there before COVID as well!)

Robot restaurant in Bangalore | Image: Conde Nast Traveller, India

Drive-in and drive-through: Drive throughs were already common at a few McDonalds outlets across India, pre-COVID. With the Dineout app, you can pre-order food at DFL Cyber Hub at Gurgaon and pick them up at specially created drive-throughs! Just FoodInn in Ahmedabad offers a special-drive-in menu, meaning you can enjoy a delicious meal in your cars.

Mobile order and pay: Similar to drive-throughs, Starbucks across India has introduced Mobile and Pay, meaning you could order your coffee on your phone, visit the store after a few minutes, and pick your coffee up! No more waiting.

Food conveyor: Cloves restaurant in Ahmedabad, Gujarat delivers covered bowls through a food conveyor belt, i.e. straight from the kitchen to the customer, without any human contact. Customers simply have to pick up their bowls that have their table numbers mentioned!

Cloves Restaurant, Ahmedabad | Image: IANSLife

Ultraviolet sterilized cutlery and plexiglass barriers: The Grid (a microbrewery in Kolkata), Mocha, and Smokehouse Deli cafes across India have installed plexiglass barriers between tables to maintain social distancing. Also, they are using sterilized cutlery wrapped in paper, before serving to diners!

Smokehouse Deli has setup plexiglass barriers | Image: IANSLife

Nano disinfection treatment: Madras Canteen and Grill (Chennai) uses graphene-based nano disinfection treatment, assuring 24x7 anti-viral protection to its customers and staff. The entire restaurant is disinfected daily.

Synthetic leather seats: A local restaurant (apologies I forgot the name!) have taken a cue from Spicejet! They changed all their chair to synthetic leather seats. According to Spicejet’s COVID19 page: “These non-porous seats make it difficult for viruses and particles to penetrate inside them and can be easily wiped off compared to standard fabric seats”

QR code menus, tables quipped with iPads: A few restaurants have installed iPads on each table, making it easier for guests to order, while, according to Dineout, 65% of their partner restaurants have switched to QR code-based digital menus.

The paramount concern for all customers is safety. The more restaurants adopt innovative measures to ensure customers feel safe, the more they are likely to return.

Are you going out to eat again? If yes, what’s your experience like?

What more can restaurants do to ensure their guests feel safe?

Share your thoughts below!

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Analytics Leader | Love Writing | Foodie | Travel Enthusiast | Plane Spotter

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