COVID-19 is changing everything – especially how we eat. How consumers dine-in, dine-out, and even think about their meals is evolving rapidly as concerns rise about cleanliness, protection, and how we experience physical spaces.
In this installment of our 4-part restaurant series, we’re focusing on three behavior shifts that we’re seeing and using insights from our recent consumer research to find ways to address the rising importance of operational safety.
With the effects of Contact Avoidance, Protecting Personal Space, and Confidence-based Loyalty in mind, we explored a variety of solutions that could be used as restaurants prepare for re-entry and reimagine operational safety. We invented a fictitious brand, Better Burger, to illustrate our thinking.
To manage perception while protecting employees and customers, this solution implements staff training and reinforcement of protective mask and glove protocols. The updated dining room and kitchen areas have hand sanitizing stations as well as improved airflow and ventilation. Contactless disinfecting hand washers and self-disinfecting door and drawer handles give customers a clear visual of the cleaning measures being taken, in addition to the presence of branded communications. Future thinking might include the presence of a UV-disinfecting food conveyor that disinfects trays and packaging.
To ensure employee and customer safety without losing operational efficiency, the following low-cost modifications could be utilized. The order counter features a continuous sneeze guard in addition to sneeze guards between customers at the point of sale. Floor graphics are used to demonstrate queuing distancing and one-way traffic flow. Future thinking might include the installation of anti-bacterial surface materials, robotic automation of cooking and assembly tasks, and distanced back-of-house workstations.
To effectively create a safe environment for both employees and customers, this solution features one-way circulation paths and mobile-ordering – order-ahead or tableside. The order counter is adapted to provide employee paths in and out of the kitchen, tables are numbered for clear food delivery to customers, and employees are trained on their new roles and processes. The reimagination stage could include complete transformation to order pick-up and table service only in addition to eliminating the order counter.
To address dining touchpoints to make customers feel safe, an employee is dedicated to table and chair cleaning. Self-serve utensil, beverage, and condiment stations are eliminated – and included with food orders alongside sterile wipes. Waste bins are open-top to avoid unnecessary contact. Future state could include UV-disinfecting wands and UV-disinfecting entry portals.
To completely eliminate touch in restrooms, the space is modified to make all touchpoints contactless, from the toilet flush to the hand dyers, in addition to including self-disinfecting door handle covers. Future thinking might involve gender-neutral, single occupancy restrooms, contactless disinfecting hand washers, UV-disinfecting light with a self-locking door that opens (and shows a green light) once the space is sanitized, and a motion-activated automatic door.
As you work through the immediacy of response, how will you plan for re-entry?
Contact us to help you reimagine what comes next.