Restaurants have it bad during the pandemic. Without customers dining in, they depend on delivery and take-out orders. But there is a silver lining to this. No customers coming in means that you have the freedom to do renovations without worrying about losing any money from lost customers. This also allows you to prepare for the coming post-pandemic marketplace. Your renovation goals should be to ensure that your place will be an attractive and safe location to eat out for those who missed the dining experience.
More Open Environments
Ensure that returning diners are not being clumped together. Instead of trying to pack in as many diners as possible in your available space, you will want to emphasize distance. For example, one restaurant moved out of its cramped indoor space and to a rooftop location. This gave diners a different view and emphasized openness. Doing something similar for your restaurant can make it feel more attractive to those who have been cooped up in their homes for months.
You may not be able to move but this doesn’t mean you can’t change things up. You may not have roof space, but you still have the sidewalk and a potential patio. Consider ways to bring your diners outside. Additionally, a creative restaurant layout can give you a bit more space between diners. This also allows for a better flow of movement from table to table.
Make It More Accessible
You will need as many customers as possible when you open up again. If you don’t want to turn anyone away and want to make yourself an attractive choice as a place to eat out, then you’ll make yourself more accessible. Add a wheelchair lift and ramp near the entrance so that people in wheelchairs would be able to enter. The wider space in your layout should also allow for easier movement for the disabled.
It is not just movement-impaired that you should accommodate. It would be best if you also were welcoming to the sight-impaired and the deaf. Have large signs and braille menus available. Guide dogs should also be allowed inside your restaurant. It helps if you add staff who can handle these individuals.
One important part of the renovation if you want more accessibility is the bathroom. Restaurant owners often forget that the disabled also use the toilet and other amenities. Add a toilet specifically for the disabled to ensure that they will be able to have it available.
For full accessibility, consult the ADA guidelines and standards so that you can see what you can do.
Have A Dedicated Take-out Area
Restaurants had to struggle when the pandemic hit when it came to take-out. Most of them had no pick-up windows or something similar. This crippled them a bit but many adapted. Don’t forget this lesson by adding a special space for take-out and delivery pickups. Whether it is a waiting room or a simple window, people will still appreciate being able to do take-out after the pandemic is over.
Update The Furnishings
When opening after the pandemic, you need to show that it is fresh for your restaurant. A good way to show that is by completely overhauling the furnishings of your restaurant. New tables, chairs, and even wall decor can show returning customers that you are ready to welcome them back.
Choose a brighter color and theme for your renewed restaurant. No one wants to stay in a dark place for eating out anymore. Intimate dinners are now the province of home dining rooms. Your job is to offer a community experience that they won’t find in the house. Soft natural colors like browns and greens can help relax your diners while also still brightening things up.
Sanitation and Hygiene
Another part of refurbishing your restaurant is the increased focus on the health of your customers. It would be best if you showcased your care for them by adding sanitation and hygiene upgrades. Have hand washing stations in easy reach, with sensor-based faucets available. Additionally, investing in air purifiers so that customers will have clean air to breathe, free of bacteria. These visible improvements will help ease your customers’ minds.
However, most of the improvements will be in the kitchen. Your employees should be using better equipment and following improved procedures. Your diners may not see them, but they will appreciate the effort that you put into it.
The pandemic isn’t going to last forever. Eventually, people will be back to enjoy fine dining and great food. They will appreciate a place that feels safe and accessible to everyone so you have to prepare for it right.