Restaurant brand-building in 2020/21
Trust will likely be the primary driver that brings the public back to restaurant eating during the post-peak tail of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Differentiators will be those that actively display the operator's and staff’s true caring and process control. "In the case of restaurants, consumers are generally relying on the restaurant itself to take precautionary measures. That trust is perhaps where the biggest gap needs to be crossed.” Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, VP of Marketing Stephen Loftis
Leaders will position their Purell dispensers [Other alcohol hand sanitizers can be substituted but may be lesser known to the public.] for use rather than tucked away as an inconvenient option. They will welcome every diner with creative, customized and individualized signage.
Wait staff will be wielding trigger packed Purell spray to assure clean tables and counters are presented to every diner. They will model desired customer behaviors by frequently degerming their hands at the public area sanitizer dispensers.
If a handwashing verification system in place, brag about it.
Attention-getting restroom cleanliness will be a leading indicator of caring and be considered a likely reflection of kitchen cleanliness. Automatic faucets and touch-free soap and paper towel dispensers are musts. Set the faucets for full-flow (2gallons/min). This promotes better washing and thorough rinsing while saving water. Eliminate air-dryers because paper provides the friction that is the final step of cleaning and is highly preferred by customers.
Handwashing is currently the least controlled culinary process. Protecting food with temperature control has been long established with staff armed with thermometers and more. Surface cleanliness has powerful disinfectants and monitoring devices such as ATP meters.
This is the prime time to leverage technology by verifying kitchen handwashing. Make all kitchens open-kitchens when it comes to handwashing. The post-Coronavirus diner, particularly the Millennials and Gen Z, will find this level of transparency particularly trustworthy - worthy of return.