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Winter Options for Restaurants

Winter Options for Restaurants

Feeser’s wants to help our restaurant partners in the food service industry as we all navigate through the latest COVID-19 restrictions and provide tips to prepare your restaurant for these colder months. 

When staying six feet away from others is not possible in areas such as checkout and ordering. Masks and physical barriers like Plexiglass and sneeze guards help uphold health and safety practices. Restaurants should also adopt new touch-free practices and digital ordering options as much as possible. 

Seeing Light at the End of the Tunnel

With so many questions about how long the pandemic will last, when we will all have a vaccine, and when it will be safe to completely reopen restaurants and businesses, restaurateurs need to be nimble and flexible in their planning. In a constantly fluctuating and unpredictable market, restaurant owners must stick to focusing on what is within their control and coming up with practical and creative ways to meet ever-changing safety standards.

Regardless of when it’s finally safe for customers to flock back to their favorite restaurants, many pandemic-inspired practices may stick around for years to come, if not permanently. To keep up with the times, restaurant owners will need to start implementing more long-term social distancing procedures. With a little creativity and innovation, restaurants worldwide have continued serving their communities while protecting their health.  

Takeout and Delivery Options 

It’s no problem to social distance your customers when they aren’t actually in your restaurant — both takeout and delivery services make it possible to limit your restaurant’s capacity while still taking orders and driving up sales. The total of food delivery orders in the U.S. went up by 67% when the country first introduced shelter-in-place shutdowns, and the CDC still advises that takeout and delivery are still the safest dining options.  

Even traditional sit-down restaurants have ramped up their takeout and delivery services since the pandemic began. To expedite to-go ordering, many restaurants have started using mobile apps. While some restaurants stick with an in-house delivery system, others have opted to partner with a third-party online delivery service. 

Three Popular Service Options

Curbside: Since COVID-19 broke out, to-go orders with contactless curbside pickup have become essential. Some restaurants have created to-go windows that let customers get their food without ever stepping foot into the building, while others have designated specific parking spots as drive-up to-go order pickup points. 

Drive-thru: The drive-thru isn’t only for fast food anymore — it’s an effective way to serve customers with minimal contact for any eatery. If your building isn’t suitable for a drive-thru, think outside the box and rig up something like this pulley system or other innovative means. 

Delivery: Whether through a third party or not, delivery has become a vital restaurant service. Some eateries have even begun offering meal delivery kits in which all the ingredients come prepped and ready to cook at the customer’s convenience. 

Here are some takeout container options and other supplies that Feeser’s carries to help you shift from in-house dining to takeout and keep you and your customers safe with social distancing. 

Outdoor Dining Expansions 

One of the best ways to meet the COVID-19 guidelines for restaurants is by increasing outdoor seating. Dining al fresco was already a popular way to  enjoy a meal before the pandemic, and the airflow allowed by outdoor seating dramatically reduces the health risks of going inside a restaurant. Because the natural outdoor wind currents typically disperse germs into the air more quickly, you’re less likely to inhale a large number of viral particles outside. The safety factors and amount of open space for social distancing have made outdoor dining an appealing option for restaurant owners in the age of COVID-19. Expanding outdoor seating allows restaurants to spread out their layout more while achieving a higher capacity of customers. In light of these benefits, many restaurant owners have chosen to build patios or add them to their existing outdoor seating area.

How to Socially Distance Your Restaurant During Cold Weather 

Although outdoor seating is the ideal socially distanced dining situation, serving customers outside becomes increasingly challenging as the weather gets colder. Once seating people outdoors is no longer a viable option, restaurants may need to cut their capacity yet again. However, there are ways to make an outdoor dining area suitable for the winter months.

To avoid the limitations of interior capacity in the winter, restaurant owners can convert an outdoor dining area into an all-season room. By partially enclosing portions of an outdoor dining area and adding heaters, a restaurant can maintain some outdoor seating, even in colder conditions. For restaurants in regions with milder winters, setting up space heaters or electric fireplaces around the patio could extend the outdoor seating season.

When thinking about fully enclosing an outdoor dining area, keep ventilation in mind and ensure the enclosed space has proper airflow. Even if your restaurant can’t enclose sections of its outdoor dining area, focusing on improving ventilation could increase your indoor occupancy.

Ways to take Advantage of Outdoor Dining for Restaurants

Patio:  Patio seating is an ideal way to get more guests dining outside and maintain social distancing. Along with being a pleasant outdoor dining option, a patio is relatively easy to extend as long as there’s available room on either side of it.

Porch:  Who doesn’t love dining and soaking up the sun on an expansive deck? Although decks may be a bit more challenging to expand, they are a practical and aesthetic way to increase a restaurant’s number of outdoor dining tables and draw customers.

On-street dining:  To help the struggling restaurant industry recover, various streets across the country have closed to vehicle traffic so more local restaurants can use the room for seating. Restaurants lucky enough to take advantage of this extra space have added tents, tables and chairs to enlarge their outdoor dining area.

Menu and Ordering Variations 

From browsing the menu to placing their orders, the dine-in customer experience is different. Even the menu items might look a bit different from before the pandemic. For example, restaurants may need to offer fewer shareable appetizers and desserts to cut down on potential germ spread.

Restaurants may also need to reduce the number of items offered on their menus or make their dishes less complicated, so the preparation process can involve fewer kitchen staff members. Approaches like these can effectively protect customers’ health and save the restaurant some money, while maintaining the same high standards of quality.

Three easy changes for socially distant ordering 

QR codes:  Ditch the high-touch hard copy of the menu for a contactless digital version. QR codes allow customers to effortlessly browse a restaurant’s full menu on their phone by scanning the code.

Order-ahead options for dining in:  Reduce the amount of time customers spend in the building by enabling them to place a dine-in order online before arriving at the restaurant. This option will also allow you to rotate through more customers each day while staying at a low capacity.

Masked staff members:  Whenever in-person ordering is unavailable, staff should always be wearing cloth face coverings to protect both customers and themselves, according to the CDC. Make masks fun by encouraging staff to wear colors, prints and designs that show off their personality.

Possibilities for creative social distancing

Pods:  Custom-made dining pods will be sure to attract curious customers to your restaurant. This cafe makes social distancing look elegant and chic with glass pods designed to look like mini-greenhouses.

Shields:  Restaurants can use plenty of literal barriers to keep customers socially distant. From lampshade-like face shields to Plexiglas between tables, there’s no shortage of ways to personalize your restaurant’s makeshift separators.

Wearable accessories:  If you want to add panache, give your customers something to wear that will force others to stay six feet away from them. For example, one beach restaurant started using innertubes as “bumper tables,” and another cafe has customers wearing pool noodle hats to maintain social distancing.

Contact Feeser’s Food Distributors

for Restaurant Supplies in the Mid-Atlantic Region 

Now, more than ever, restaurants must do whatever they can to maximize their money while staying within budget. Feeser’s Food Distributors is a broadline distributor ready to supply anything your food service needs during these trying times. By offering over 10,000 fresh, frozen, refrigerated or dry products from national brands at an affordable price, Feeser’s allows restaurant owners to benefit from lower costs without sacrificing quality.

As a family-owned and operated company, Feeser’s prides itself on the relationships we have with our customers and providing them with a wide variety of options. Because customer service and satisfaction are our top priorities, we work with restaurants to figure out which products would be best for them, instead of pushing specific brands. For more information about how your restaurant can overcome COVID-19 challenges by taking advantage of our services, contact Feeser’s Food Distributors today. 

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