Reopening Restaurants in the New Normal

Roselle Ebarle
9 min readAug 7, 2020
Photo by Shawn Ang on Unsplash

Boosting an economy again is today’s dilemma of every country. One major player in a city’s economy is the food industry. Restaurants at the start of the breakout were forced to close. This is the reason that among all industries, the food industry particularly restaurants, has a lot to consider and adjust in order to avoid spreading the virus.

The New Normal

In hopes of finally eradicating COVID-19 and trying to rebuild lives, people are quoting a new way of living as “ the new normal” which includes wearing face masks all the time and avoiding crowded places and maintaining social distancing.

Standing up again and rebuilding lost revenues, restaurants are also going back to the way things were before the pandemic. But with certain twists. Different countries have imposed different guidelines in reopening restaurants and accepting customers.

Here are the most common guidelines imposed:

No Mask No Entry

Going inside a restaurant, customers should wear face masks when they enter and order food. Although obviously, upon eating you can remove the face mask. Which leads to our next guideline.

Strict Social Distancing

Restaurants are forced to accommodate only a certain number of customers when dining in. Almost all states require a deduction of 50% in their usual capacity. For instance, tables are now placed at a certain distance from each other and each table has only a certain number of chairs which can be occupied.

No Dining In

Some small restaurants being unable to accommodate a lot of customers even under social distancing rules only accept take out orders. In ordering take-outs, still, social distancing should be maintained — at least a meter away from each other when lining up towards the counter.

There are actually more specific guidelines for every state or country regarding restaurant protocols that were imposed. Find out more of what your state requires to get an idea on how to startup your business again.

How Do We Start-up Again?

Following those listed guidelines, there are more ways and ideas on how to properly execute and manage your restaurant safely. Here are some ideas that you can apply:

Get hands-free sanitizer dispenser outside

Because there were growing doubts about the use of the common sanitizer dispensers that we used to have because of the possible virus spreading by touching the bottle or pressing the lever to dispense sanitizer, there were new innovations released. Such innovations were hands-free sanitizer dispensers to avoid touching surfaces at all with your hands.

Get a small sink

Some restaurants are becoming practical with the use of sanitizers and alcohol. Thus, they installed small sinks outside their doors so that customers can wash their hands before and after going inside. Since washing your hands gives you a lesser chance of retaining some bacteria or virus that you got by touching surfaces, this is a great idea to add to your restaurant.

Footbath as a welcome mat

Foot baths have also grown in popularity since the pandemic started. Banks, pharmacies, grocery stores, etc have added a foot bath or foot mat before entering their premises. These footbaths have antiseptic chemicals to ensure public safety.

Impose a good queuing system

While ordering for their takeouts or dine-in food, make a good queuing system to maintain social distancing among your customers and personnel. When taking orders, make your crew wear face masks and face shields. This builds trust that your property and your service uphold health safety. Also, you can add visible floor markings for the guidance of customers in queueing, preferably color-coded marks. Aside from that, you can also add chairs distanced from each other. We all know this new situation we are in right now is a little time consuming so don’t remove the comfort of your customers.

Good entrance and exit

You can take an idea from some restaurants that have now designated entrance and exit doors. This is one way to avoid being crowded on the small door that you used to have.

Make the most out of delivery

If you don’t offer deliveries for customer orders, do consider adding one. It relieves you the hassle of maintaining store protocols inside your restaurant and it also gives your customers the ease of going outside and ordering in your physical store.

Contactless Ordering

Try contactless ordering and delivery services for your restaurants. Right now your best strategy is to minimize all your “touchpoints” in your property. So what are these “touchpoints”? Literally, they are points where almost everyone inside touches. These are surfaces commonly touched by a lot of people.

Tables are considered “touchpoints”, your “tap and go” are also considered one, and even self-service portions such as parts where you place condiments and utensils. These should be removed or avoided in your restaurants to avoid cross-contamination and spreading bacteria and viruses. Your printed menus are also “touchpoints” which you should consider ditching.

Ideas for a Contactless Ordering You Can try

New ways of contactless orders have been emerging as well these days. Food delivery services are getting popular and pickup windows are now in action in almost every restaurant.

Delivery partners

If you don’t have delivery men, third party service providers are also emerging in the market. Third-party delivery services are now on the pedestal of the food industry as well. They have applications where you can order from their restaurant partners and their staff will pick them up from the store and deliver it to your doorstep.

Ordering Applications

If you’re a restaurant owner who can’t afford yet to hire developers for your own mobile application, there are applications that you can partner with where your customers can order. The customers can pay their orders in the store for pick up or even for dining in. Deliveroo, for example, is a leading delivery service provider that now added a new feature called “Table Service” which allows customers to order from a menu in a certain restaurant and then pay for the order and enjoy dining in.

Digital Menus using QR Codes

Digital menus have been a popular innovation for years now. It’s a great way to turn your restaurant to digital. It makes the customers interested in some new meals or offers because it’s almost real when shown on screens.

Some restaurant chains use digital menu boards on top of counters where customers can look up while in line and choose a meal to order. Some also use iPads or tablets where customers can access the digital menu and it’s systematically sent to counters for payment and/or verification.

What’s interesting now is you can add a QR code menu in this “new normal” situation to achieve a contactless ordering system.

Here are very persuading reasons as to why digital menus are great to partner with QR codes in the new normal:

It’s Safe — Customers can scan the QR code and they can be redirected to a platform or to your digital menu itself. For instance, a person while waiting for the ride in a subway train or a bus stop can scan your QR code to pre-order a meal and pay for it once they arrive in your store. QR codes can also be placed in your restaurant tables so customers can scan it and choose meals to order and just wait comfortably inside your store. This way you can minimize contact with customers and staff and ensure health safety for both parties.

It saves you bucks — For many restaurants menu updates are a constant thing. They usually update and add new food to their menu on a monthly or seasonal basis. Reprinting your paper menus or product promotions can be time consuming and expensive. On the other hand, when you use a digital menu, you don’t need to update and reprint your menu anymore. Also, you get to ditch the very common instances of committing typographic errors. With digital menus, you can update your menu and edit some mistakes in spelling perhaps.

Flexible menu — There are restaurants that offer different meals depending on the time. For instance, within 7 AM-10 AM you offer breakfast meals, and within 11 AM-5 PM you usually offer lunch and other regular meals while on the remaining time of your working hours, you offer dinner meals. If you offer those kinds of meals in your restaurant, then it is very easy to change menus when you invest in digital menus.

Display your products easily — With a digital menu, you can easily change your marketing messages easily. You can prioritize highlighting some promo or combo meals. You can easily promote a certain offer of your meals. Because digital menus are versatile by nature, changes can be easily made without breaking a sweat.

Upsell easily too — The upset strategy’s main purpose is to offer a much more expensive meal in a restaurant to your customers. Yes, you read it right. It offers a much more expensive meal or an add-on to their meal. But in concept, it’s supposed to offer a good value for the money. You should make them see the value for their order when they choose the one with upselling.

Good thing digital menus can help you upsell easily. Some restaurants offer daily add-ons or special menu combo to upsell and you can do this easily with a digital menu. It helps your customers become attracted to what’s on your menu because it’s being highlighted.

Fast Ordering — Because your menu is on screen and it includes great images of your food, it helps customers decide fast in what to order.

In connection to that, this will improve your customer service rating. It helps you prepare their orders faster as well because they are connected simultaneously to your system for fast data relay of their orders. Since your digital menu is very accessible now, customers will also perceive lesser waiting time since they can entertain themselves with your digital menu on their screens. Adding interactive entertainment tools such as videos, photos, or games in your digital menus is also a good idea.

Customer Data — With QR codes being the bearer for demographics of how your business is running, you can also make use of this. You can now get a bigger picture of what meal is the best-seller by tracking which one is ordered. You will also know what time do you usually get a lot of orders or customers by taking a look at how many scans in a particular time of the day.

How to create QR code for your menu

Whether you’re using a webpage for taking orders, a PDF of your menu, or a JPEG, it’s very easy to embed them in a QR code. Here’s how:

Choose a QR code generator

There are a lot of generators available online however, we use QRTiger a lot because it has a very easy interface and affordable plans.

Choose the type of data you want to embed

If you want to embed a PDF or a JPEG of your menu, upload it under the “File” category. If you’re using your own web page to take orders and show your digital menu, input your website under “URL” category

Generate QR code

Choose if you want a static QR code or a dynamic QR code and click “Generate QR Code”

Customize your QR code

Start customizing your QR code by changing the pattern, altering the eyes, adding your restaurant logo, setting the colors, or even adding frames.

Test your QR code

Always test your QR code if it’s very easy to scan and read by your mobile phone’s camera. Also, check if the QR code you just created redirects to the correct digital menu that you embedded.

Download your QR code

Once tested, download your QR code and you can start printing it out.

Deploy your QR code

Place your printed QR codes in strategic places where they can get the most scan it can get. Places such as restaurant tables, subway stations, bus stops or terminals, malls, etc. are good places to place your QR codes.

Restaurants in The New Normal

Photo by Bagir Bahana on Unsplash

Surely we at some point in our 2020 lives we were heavily affected by the pandemic the world is facing. Some of us missed graduation, lost jobs, postponed big family events, and business went down. Every country’s economy went down immediately when the news broke out of a wide global virus spreading all over. Now, several countries have been trying to stand up again after a terrible situation they all faced.

Businesses like restaurants were heavily affected being forced to close in the first few weeks of the breakout. Now some are rebuilding again and reviving once lost expected revenues. But still, safety is a priority nowadays. Even if there are zero new cases of the virus in your city or country, we have come to agree that not everything will go back to the way it was before.

New protocols will be maintained and observed, food deliveries and pickups will surely dominate, contactless ordering will be a new big thing, and other things not mentioned. These will go on for days, months, years, or even more. This is Our New Normal.

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Roselle Ebarle

Full Stack Engineer | Tech consultant | Entrepreneur | Toastmasters | Founder of Muggtech