Restaurant Planning Considerations for 2021

Posted on: January 13, 2021 by RMS Hospitality

As the new year begins, restaurants are looking to find ways to cater to customers in what’s being called the new normal. The pandemic completely changed the way people dine out, order in, and feel about eating from their favorite restaurants. This is why food spots need to pivot to provide a safe environment for their customers, not just for this year but for years to come. According to a report from software and analytics company Oracle, this year will be about settling into a new tempo, catering to diners in innovative ways that improve their dining experience while keeping them safe from potential exposure to any illnesses, especially COVID-19. As customers consider returning to enjoy the dining experiences they’ve missed, restaurants can set a new standard through well-rounded and long-term health, safety, and design planning.

Here are some restaurant planning strategies that clients in the industry should consider moving forward.

Delivery & To-Go Ordering

Restaurants that didn’t typically offer delivery or to-go saw the need to survive as a push to provide these options for customers during the early stages of the pandemic. Now, seeing delivery and to-go ordering as beneficial, restaurants will continue these options moving forward.

This flexibility is critical as the cold season settles in for a few months and people await their turn at a vaccine. An increased emphasis and more strategy behind the delivery and curbside pickup are smart considerations for restaurants looking to keep things afloat for now and act as additional income help after things return to normal later in the year.

Food deliveries saw significant surges throughout 2020 as apps like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub helped restaurants reach diners at the delivery level. Decreasing on-premises sales, social distancing, and the work-from-home lifestyle have all helped consumers opting to have their food delivered to them rather than dining in. Now, as restaurants have adapted to delivery at least in part, in-house delivery is expected to be part of restaurant strategy in the future. 

Health Concerns and Design Considerations

Consumers may be hesitant throughout the year to return to normal dining patterns, such as bringing large parties to a restaurant. Thankfully, COVID-19 is not known to transfer through food. Guidance from the World Health Organization says that coronavirus strains show that while the virus appears to be stable at low and freezing temperatures for a specific period, food hygiene and proper food safety practices can prevent transmission through food.

That said, it’s still essential to ensure that diners feel safe when they do dine in. This can limit exposure to legal issues such as claims related to getting sick. While the insurance field surrounding COVID-19 claims is still ambiguous at this point, operating without a Restaurant Insurance Program is detrimental to any establishment’s plans for 2021.

To help guests feel safe, restaurants can create separation between guests. They can start by spacing individual tables further apart and provide limited booth dining. Similarly, restaurants can adjust bar seating options to increase distancing. Some bars are incorporating plexiglass barriers between singular seats to separate guests who are enjoying drinks or a meal at the bar.

Restaurants should also consider seating materials, replacing cloth seats with a wipeable surface such as metal or wood. To make up for lost space, restaurants can increase outdoor seating options, including adding a patio or providing street café seating along sidewalks.

Furthermore, regardless of local and statewide mask mandates, restaurants should enforce their own mask rules for those who enter—having a universal in-house order that requires people to wear masks when entering and exiting can keep everyone protected, including restaurant staff. 

About RMS Hospitality Group

At RMS Hospitality Group, our expertly crafted policies are written specifically for the hospitality industry. We offer custom-tailored solutions to meet any venue’s specific needs. For more information, contact our experts today at (888) 359-8390.

Posted in: Restaurant Insurance

COVID-19 Update:

At RMS and associated firms, business continues as usual. Our staff is remote-capable and available to handle all partners, brokers, and insureds at the present time. Contact us today!