Since we are all first-time-pandemic-restauranteurs, we wanted to connect with our network to gather insights, best practices and tactical solutions as we all walk down the path to reopening. At the beginning of the week we’ll ask our community a discussion question, then share the responses here.
This week we wanted to explore how our community is balancing the warmth and hospitality our industry is built on, with the new, strict safety guidelines from our local markets. How do you deliver the same great experience to your guests while also making them feel comfortable and safe?
What came through loud and clear in our replies was that service was at the center. There were ideas for weaving new safety standards into additional customer service touch points and provide new ways to make customers feel welcomed – fun/branded masks that could inspire social media posts, sanitation stations that match your brand, increased time to talk to customers because of reduced seating.
We also heard that making your team feel safe and secure had to be step one before you could move on to bringing that same feeling to your guests. It’s clear that if we look at this moment to differentiate our brands and experience, the same as before but with slightly (okay, massively) different context, we can create those memorable moments for our teams and customers within setting a stage built on safety.
Below is a sample of the responses from the experts themselves.
We have taken our seat reduction as not only a challenge, but an opportunity. Having less seats doesn’t have to mean less revenue. We have added value to every seat by offering prix fixe tasting menus, cocktail experiences, and reserve wines as add-ons to every reservation. Our servers have more time to spend with each guest, since there are less guests, and have been able to provide even better service and salesmanship. We have not only been able to return to last years sales numbers, but have been often exceeding them. Less guests, more sales due to realistic creativity. This is the key to post Covid success.
Hospitality is one of our Core Values. It’s challenging now… So, we simply adapt and give it our best and thank guests for their support. Cheers!
Pagosa Springs, CO
Coffee Shop: We have decreased our seating capacity by removing the chairs from closed tables and placing a small, well designed sign on them that matches our branding and invites guests to choose a different table.
One team member is designated as the Cleaning Master to sanitize tables and chairs immediately after each customer, as well as additional hourly sanitizing of the bathrooms and other touch points. Our team members are all wearing masks, but we do not require customers to (although many have chosen to do so).
We have removed all self-serve condiments and replaced them with attractive signs letting guests know to ask a barista for cream/sugar/etc. The entrance door is propped open during open hours to limit touch points and have fresh air ventilation. Contactless payments are encouraged, both by marketing emails/social media/etc and in store signage. We used masking tape, cut into even strips, to designate where guests should stand in line to remain 6 ft apart. (We have 100 year old wood floors – I didn’t want to risk damaging them with more harsh adhesives.)
At this time, we are only using disposable compostable cups, plates, forks, etc. We are continuing to offer curbside pick-up, as well as customers now having the option to come inside to pick-up their to-go order. I have tried very hard to make all necessary signage easy to see, but also not look out of place. We used nice picture frames and thoughtful graphic design to make everything look and feel like us rather than harsh red/yellow caution tape.
We want guests to know that we are taking the responsibility seriously, yet maintain the peaceful environment that our guests love us for. We have only had our dining room open for 2 days, so we’ll see if any other changes will be made.
We plan on making our staff feel safe and comfortable and build out from there.