The dining rooms are slowly reopening with some relaxed regulations and guidance – in a few states, including here in Texas. While the pros and cons differ by brand and circumstance in other states, the common goal stays the same: Keep customers and employees safe.

What are your guests expecting from restaurants? Read below:

VIPinsiders took a unique approach to answering these dilemmas. The company conducted poll through 8,511 responses in 24 hours.

1. What type of PPE do you want restaurants to use after reopening?

2. How long would you like restaurant employees to use PPE?

More than 1,200 people believed restaurant employees should wear masks for the foreseeable future. Hefty investment for multi-unit chains? Making own masks for employees? Branded masks? Plans to update, replace, and continue to provide masks? Mask and glove conversation won’t go away!

3. Are disposable, single-use menus important to you?

Menu boards? Electronic signs? Disposable menus? Online ordering? Creating and managing a mobile app? Afterall, printer is not dead yet!

4. Is it important to you that a restaurant checks all guests and staff temperatures before dining?

A recent Datassential study showed that 61% of customers said they would support having their temperature taken before dining out. Another 41% said they’d show proof of wellness.

It’s a balancing act to ensure safety and not be invasive. Also, constantly taking these measures with guests can be unsettling. To some extent, people will want to forget their COVID-19 troubles when they’re dining out. How restaurants can sate their fears and yet also manage not remind them constantly of what’s happening will be an intriguing challenge.

5. How often did you dine out before the COVID-19 crisis?

6. Big question: How often do you plan on dining out after restaurants reopen?

People remain wary of dining out and unsure what the future of social distancing holds. But this could change in a matter of days. Hopefully it will, for the better.

7. When do you feel your normal dining-out routine will be back to normal?

This is all over the place, as you might expect. It’s the type of question restaurants need to be proactive with and drive the narrative. About 62% feel that it should be “normal” in 90 days.

8. What’s the most effective way restaurants can market their offers to you?

People are undoubtedly leaning on the restaurants they’re comfortable with and rewards programs tend to involve some sort of order functionality, which caters to another powerful contactless COVID-19 tool. There isn’t as much room to upsell at one checkout point as there is throughout a sit-down meal. This is where rewards incentives could come in handy.

9. What price range (entrée) are you looking for when you dine out again?

This is simply a dynamic emerging out of COVID-19 and mainly about discretionary income. These fluid categories will affect restaurants’ menu and marketing calendars for some time. Restaurants have proven adept at adjusting to trends—more so than retail and other industries. More focus should be value and convenience. This is going to be a monitor-and-adapt situation.

10. Has this price range changed due to the recent events?

11. After restaurants reopen, how likely are you to use curbside delivery as a service

This speaks for itself. We don’t know if the “new normal,” will take hold forever. Curbside doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. For a lot of restaurants, especially full-serves with parking, it might sustain for good. If you need to get your curbside delivery and takeout service options going, you better have it done NOW.

12. Do you agree the restaurant shutdown was necessary and we should do it again if another outbreak occurs?

Almost 90% felt that the shutdown was necessary. It’s difficult to fathom a second wave and hopefully that day never arrives in force. Or if does, there’s ample safeguards in place to make dining-room business still viable. But if COVID-19 round two takes football season with it, it could be a catastrophic turn for many.

13. What would you like disposable after reopening [for the next 90 days]?

14. Why will people return to restaurants? These are the emotional benefits people are most looking forward to:

Relaxation: 41%, Joy: 38%, Satisfaction: 35%, Indulgence/rewards: 34%, Warmth/comfort: 24%, Appreciation/gratitude: 22%, Peace/contentment: 22%, Excitement/anticipation: 21%, Relief: 21%, Inspiration: 9%, Curiosity: 7%, None: 12% ( I dont know who these 12% are and what their reason is to return or is it they are not going to?)

Simply, there are no shortage of reasons customers will come back. But – What are they looking for and how do they feel for them to come back to restaurants for dining?

As we can see from the image – Food safety sanitation, deep cleaning, sick employees staying home, frequent surface sanitizing are high on the demand and every restaurant owner/operator must go through that practice and start implementing a few “more” things.

It comes down to a few things for restaurants: Getting through the crisis, being ready for what’s on the other side, and building loyalty through differentiation and familiarity. Not easy tasks, but light at the end of the very long COVID-19 tunnel. If you are better-prepared, easier that light source!

Let me know if you need help with your food safety system and food safety plan.


Disclaimer: I am not a marketing specialist but I am a food safety professional. Just reviewed 2 great reads and combined it.

Source: VIPInsiders and DataEssential