The coronavirus pandemic has brought about sweeping changes in all walks of life. It has affected numerous businesses all over the world. The restaurant industry, like many others, has experienced various changes because of the effects of the virus. The idea of going out to a public place and dining in a room filled with strangers is definitely not appealing the way it once was. With fears of contracting the virus on stepping outside, people are hesitant to go out and visit their favourite restaurants. After all, their health and safety are of utmost importance.
So, what does this mean for restaurants?
Well, it is time to reinvent ourselves! The world outside is changing every minute as the pandemic carries on. Of course, this means that restaurants need to adopt some suitable changes too. These changes have to do with hygiene, safety, marketing, and so on.
Some of the trends that we can expect in the restaurant industry even after the pandemic ends are.
1. Hygiene and Disinfection Practices
Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, consumers have been scared about going out for a bite or even ordering food to their homes. Fact is, the restaurant industry has been one of the worst hit industries due to this pandemic and hence, it becomes more important to reassure your customers of the safety and hygiene measures at your establishment. One way to ensure them of safe and hygienic food is to ramp up your hygiene protocol. This means disinfecting tables after every visit, sanitizing countertops and doorknobs, and scrubbing practically every surface in your restaurant multiple times a day. Thermal screening for every potential customer and employee is a necessity too.
Once you’ve adopted these safe practices in your day to day work, make sure that your customers know of these changes. You can use your social media channels to put up videos about how contactless deliveries take place, how chefs prepare food while taking all necessary precautions and minimizing contact. You can also mention the body temperature of the servers or chefs on an invoice, just to ensure customers that they are healthy and exhibit no symptoms whatsoever.
2. Lower Costs
Buffet systems are now a thing of the past. No one wants to take food from a container that has been touched by multiple people in a day. While this is a big change for many restaurants, there is a bright side- eliminating buffet systems means better and efficient usage of ingredients. This means that costs will decrease drastically and there’ll be lesser wastage too.
3. More Avenues for Profit
The pandemic has allowed restaurants to showcase new and creative ideas. Offering a DIY food kit where a customer is provided with a semi-cooked meal is something that is fresh and exciting in today’s scenario. With work from home, people have more time on their hands and would love to spend their leisure time getting to really know their food. Restaurants can take this to their advantage and experiment with different food combo ideas to keep customers pleased. They can also branch out in offering different kinds of spice powders, dips, chutney mixes and so on that customers can use on a daily basis with the meals they cook at home.
4. Higher Use of Technology
Given that people are ordering food much more often than dining out, it is extremely important to make the whole process of ordering food quick and simple. This means using the best software and technology to manage orders, inventory, employee schedules, and virtually every single function being carried out in the restaurant. Real time-tracking, quick customer service, providing an option for digital payments are some of the most important factors in today’s scenario.
5. Menu Changes
Covid-19 has made all of us more aware of the importance of good health and building immunity. People all across the globe have been eating healthier and making lifestyle changes for the better. As a restaurant, this is a great time to introduce healthy, organic food on your menu. You could promote categories such as vegan food, iron-rich smoothies, protein-filled meals, and so on.
While the restaurant industry is being forced to make changes to adapt to the current scenario, this is a great time for ghost kitchens. A ghost kitchen, often called a cloud kitchen, is a restaurant that works only on food delivery and is creating quite a buzz in the restaurant industry. It is basically a kitchen for a restaurant. There is no dine-in space for customers. All orders are accepted online, processed by the employees, and the food is sent off for home delivery. There’s been a steep rise in online orders ever since the pandemic began. Even if you run a traditional restaurant, you could consider opening up a ghost kitchen for your brand.
A ghost kitchen is essentially the space for a restaurant’s kitchen. What this means if you can use the same space to run more than one restaurant too. You’d save a ton of money on rental and utility costs. You can experiment with new business ideas, without the worry of having to put in a lot of investment. Using a common space and utensils for more than one business can be very cost-effective. For delivery purposes, you can partner with Swiggy and Zomato to lessen the burden of order processing and delivery. Or, you can decide to set up your own online ordering system through your restaurant website or application too.
Given that people are wary of stepping outside and hence there are few walk-in customers, having a ghost kitchen is an excellent idea. You only have to manage your kitchen effectively and make sure that scrumptious food is being sent out to people. You save money on employee costs, you don’t have to worry about location, and it’s a great way to ensure minimum contact. Make sure you use your social media to convey to customers that you’re doing the best you can while keeping their health and safety in mind.
The global pandemic has changed the way the world works. For the restaurant industry, this is the perfect time for a complete makeover. Enforcing new norms while paying attention to what customers need will ensure that your business thrives even in uncertain times like now and you’re able to manage the crisis better.