4 Post-Pandemic Restaurant Trends That Are Here To Stay

Apr 6, 2022

We identify four ways in which hospitality venues pivoted during the pandemic – and why those trends are here to stay.

It’s fair to say the global pandemic turned the restaurant and bar industry on its head, forcing venues to quickly adapt their business models to stay afloat. Bound by seesawing limits on the number of people allowed in a space and even whether people were permitted to eat indoors, the hospitality sector saw trends emerge which could be here to stay.

The urgent need for stricter sanitation and social-distancing measures, as well as a closure of indoor dining areas across the country, led to some creative solutions which changed the landscape and fast-tracked some emerging behaviours.

Here are four trends that were born to meet a need and aren’t going anywhere fast in an unpredictable world.

Changes to seating

The pandemic has drastically changed the look of restaurant interiors and exteriors. Indoor dining closures forced operators to take their tables outside and create outdoor dining spaces. Footpaths, streets, and parking spaces have been magically transformed into al fresco dining areas in cities across the country.

For indoor dining, large numbers of tables have been replaced with fewer tables spaced out throughout the dining area. Many bars have also transitioned from traditional bar seating to lounge-style seating.

A well-designed space that prioritises comfort and safety standards for customers will be the biggest factor in driving traffic back to a venue.

Use of technology – QR codes

QR codes were an invention waiting for the right moment in time. While they’ve been around for a while and are used for product tracking, item identification, time tracking, document management, and general marketing, they have now entered everyday life for millions around the globe.

Bars and restaurants have adopted them for check-in processes, as well as using them to limit contact and maintain hygiene by allowing diners to scan the code on their phones from the table and order from the menu.

Aside from the obvious hygienic benefits, they also allow venues struggling with staff shortages to free existing staff to do other tasks. It also speeds up the entire ordering process, leading to increased table turnover.

Delivery options

Sometimes nothing beats going out for dinner or a few drinks, rather than ordering in. But when the unpredictable shutdown of indoor dining rooms kept occurring, customers looked to those venues who offered takeaway and delivery options.

Innovations in the industry, such as virtual kitchens or partnerships between restaurants and third-party ordering apps, quickly sprang up and this trend looks like it’s here to stay.

Increase in booking time slots

Ordering on a device at the table is one way to turnover tables more quickly, but another way that has seen an uptake post pandemic is setting fixed dining time slots.

Having a table stay all night no longer generates enough profit to warrant opening the doors, especially when the number of diners has been reduced to account for social distancing. More and more restaurants are offering 90 minutes or two-hour slots, as well as charging for no-show bookings.

It doesn’t cost more to eat under the fixed-time dining option, but if the alternative is to increase menu prices, those places guaranteeing a customer a spot will be the ones seeing their visitors return in the post-pandemic world.

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