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Restaurants able to adapt operations, menu, embrace safety during COVID-19 health crisis

Diners rate restaurants more favorably when ordering restaurant-direct delivery

The restaurant industry is adapting to the pandemic and putting safety first and modifying their operations to recover business. The environment is challenging as the United States sees yet another wave of coronavirus and state and local governments implement restrictions. Consumers remain hesitant about dining out overall, although there may be regional differences. In response, restaurants have turned to off-premises business, simplifying the ordering process, making operational modifications, including menu changes, and embracing the health & safety of diners and employees.

Direct restaurant ordering channel

Regarding online ordering for delivery, consumers are rating full-service restaurants more favorably across several attributes of the experience when they order directly through restaurants’ websites and apps compared to third-party sites According to foodservice consultancy Technomic, consumers ordering delivery directly from the restaurant provided an overall ranking of 58 percent, which is 12 percentage-points higher than for those ordering from a third-party site or app (46 percent).

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When consumers rated food and beverages, those who ordered directly from the restaurants also ranked them higher: 57 percent versus 47 percent (for third party). On convenience and takeout, consumers ranked this experience higher when ordering directly from restaurants, also: 66 percent versus 55 percent.

However, when it came to service & hospitality, and brand fit & loyalty, the results for ordering direct and third party were nearly the same. Chicago-based Technomic suggests cultivating loyalty is an area of opportunity.

Regarding menu and pricing, restaurants are modifying dishes and/or prices in the response to COVID-19. A total of 38 percent of restaurant operators have implemented more versatile ingredients and 47 percent plan to. A total of 37 percent of operators have reduced menu items, while 47 percent plan to. Only 33 percent have increased prices, but another 48 percent plan to.

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Restaurants can decrease labor and increase efficiency by incorporating versatile ingredients and simplifying the menu, notes Technomic. To view copies of its Industry Insights Report, navigate here and here.

ServeSafe Dining

Operators can instill confidence in diners by communicating best practices in safety. Restaurant operators can participate in ServeSafe Dining, for example, and make the commitment, joining 10,000 operators who already have. Here are helpful safety initiatives that the National Restaurant Association provided, as they described them:

  • Adhere to the updated COVID-19 Safe Operating Guidance and/or corporate brand guidelines, which are based on CDC, FDA, EPA and OSHA guidelines
  • Adhere to the laws and guidelines set by their state and local municipalities
  • Commit to a minimum of one person per location with a current ServSafe Food Protection Manager certification
  • Commit to ensuring employees have been trained in ServSafe Food Handler courses and have gone through the free ServSafe COVID-19 Precaution Trainings
Related video: The Sounds We Crave

In addition to ServeSafe Dining, the Association aimed to provide restaurants a lift through a marketing campaign the Association initiated. Through Restaurant Revival, consumers have been reminded of the sounds of restaurants and are encouraged to return to on-premises dining.

Photo credit: Louis Hansel (featured preview image), National Restaurant Association (video)

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