Foodservice is one of the many industries that had to implement changes due to the threat of COVID-19. We discovered and continue to discover many loopholes as we usher in a new era in the food realm, but it is evident that we are taking measures to improve customer service. Here are notable realizations that will form bases for the success of restaurateurs’ in the years to come:
Food Keeps the Economy Running
When a crisis as big as a pandemic took the economy to a standstill, the demand for food stayed constant. Also, for lack of a better diversion from having to adapt to the sudden life changes and protocols imposed, people sought comfort from food more than ever. Nevertheless, meeting the people’s unceasing cravings works as a double-edged sword for restaurant owners and a reminder to those, for example, wanting to take advantage of sub shop franchise opportunities or putting up a takeout counter.
Perhaps, the theme that overarches the industry dawning from the pandemic is maintaining the best food quality as people seek more than just to fill a physical void. There is pressure, then, to source only the freshest ingredients and to ensure that cooked food stays on tip-top condition throughout deliveries until they reach customers. On the other hand, failing to keep up with these standards most often leads to bad online reviews, which could cause a ripple effect in a place’s reputation, causing an immense impact on their business’s ability to stay afloat.
Emphasis on Sanitation
Restrictions are steadily being lifted, to the delight of people who haven’t hung out in a proper place such as a cafe or a restaurant for so long. But a good portion of the population still maintains a level of hesitancy to dine out as contagion concerns continue to loom. Nevertheless, restaurants continue to adapt to their patrons’ changing needs: consciously distanced table and seating arrangements, strict PPE requirements for both kitchen and serving staff, menus that are accessible by scanning QR codes, and contactless payments. Also, wiping dining tables every so often with industry-grade disinfectant solutions is only one of the practices that have become commonplace in food joints, big and small alike.
With shelter-in-place orders put in place left and right with most people having not stored enough food for consumption, this consequently pushed many to resort to food delivery to sustain themselves. On the other hand, packaging manufacturers were quick on their feet to meet the sudden surge in the demand for their products. And not so much later, when consumers have grown more conscious of how their food is handled from the kitchen to their door, there came the need to produce more durable food containers that could keep food hot for a long time and are microbe-resistant.
Still, because dining at one’s favorite local restaurants was a remote possibility except having their go-to dishes in takeaway bags, we were all quick to realize how this could exacerbate our already remarkable plastic problem. We knew at some point, the guilty pleasure from having food delivered again and again was not solely from consuming these huge servings, ideally for multiple people, several times a week. The guilt had a lot to do with accumulating more trash than what was considered normal.
To this rose the popularity of more eco-friendly disposable dining ware. A brand recently launched their truly marine biodegradable, turtle-saving straws and was met with huge support by global fast-food brands. The day has come for the biodegradable and even edible cutlery to take center stage.
The pandemic made both restaurants and customers appreciate the indispensable role of third-party delivery service providers. Because of the convenience they offer to restaurants and taking a big part of their operations like collecting fees, updating customers on their orders, and bringing food to their table, more and more are getting over their reluctance to learn the workings of delivery apps. Of course, this is aside from providing the most convenient curbside pickup service.
Replicating the Dine-in Experience
Served food has never been subject to so much scrutiny until customers noted a stark contrast in its appearance between being served in-house and being placed in a paper box for takeaway. It’s fair to say everyone has had a fair share of experiencing what could be categorized as being ripped off for paying a premium to indulge in restaurant food only to be sent a lopsided box with a sad-looking, downsized sandwich or pasta. Many restaurants caught wind of this and started improving the way they present their dishes and portion sizes to make opening delivery boxes and cups a gratifying experience.
The pandemic introduced a new set of challenges to the food industry. But, it lent us incentives for improvement. No matter what, restaurants are urged to balance the costs to adapt to drastic changes with the value customers demand.