With 2020 in its last leg, and the world waiting with bated breath for COVID cure, the new normal (read wearing masks) is raising mixed reviews all over.
As restaurants reopen following safety guidelines, things are due for a solemn turn.
Like it or not, face masks and shields are the new faces of hospitality.
In a report titled, “Restaurant Reckoning: Dynamic Diner” released by a guest experience platform, reveals how more than 50 percent of guests wanting to dine outside prefer social distancing and wearing masks enforced for restaurant staff.
The same report also depicts a good number of restaurants (approx. 30 percent) enforcing strict rules for their guests to wear face masks when entering or moving around the venue.
In an attempt to embrace the emerging culture induced by the pandemic, restaurants are ordering high-quality disposable masks in bulk to be used by their staff. Some big names in the business like McDonalds and Burger King are even considering designing masks as a part of their permanent staff uniform.
This post is a mull over on the changing face of restaurants, and why their ordering of masks in huge quantities is a smart move.
An Instrument to Dissipate Anxiety
One of the primary reasons why restaurants would require masks to operate is public anxiety.
Although, WHO has made it clear that COVID has shown no trail or signs of transmission from food and food packaging, the fear of dining in a public place is keeping people on their toes.
As such, restaurant staff wearing masks, especially those who are on the front end serving food and beverage (waiters and sommeliers), and interacting with customers will act as an instrument to dispel the fear for good.
In other words, it simply means more business for the establishment.
In all probability, the post COVID world shall continue to carry in its trail, remnants of fear and anxiety as commanding emotions. Thus, welcoming people to a place where they are surrounded by masked men and women promising guest safety does offer peace of mind.
Seeing is Believing
While a majority of restaurants proclaim the best safety standards, it all boils down to what people see when they visit the place.
Undeniably, masks are an indispensable component of sanitization. In essence, the new normal is turning masks to be a permanent part of hospitality operations. Besides other basics like licensing, maintaining health codes, or reservations made online, wearing a mask too is becoming a mainstream element.
Hospitality, by all means, is no more about sugar quoted phrases to impress customers, but all about demonstrating your ability in terms of safety and hygiene.
As diners turn to restaurants, it is increasingly important for the attending staff to keep their uniforms, hair, nails, and all other visible surfaces clean and spotless. Any grime or dust, otherwise harmless, is most likely to be translated as an indication of being unhygienic, messing with people’s minds.
State Induced Mandate
Despite no national mandate issued by the government, the US witnesses mandate issued by a handful of states, like North Carolina, Utah, California, and Washington. Reportedly, the same states had earlier shown resentment to wear masks.
In places like New Jersey and New York that have enforced requirements to wear masks are continuously witnessing infections to decline. Thus, restaurants operating in such states are required to follow the rules, even if they don’t want to.
Recreating a safe dining experience amidst an ongoing pandemic can be a tad challenging, but certainly doable. No denying, restaurants now have a bigger responsibility. While the majority of them are following a list of self-created protocols, others might refer and follow the guidelines issued by the National Restaurant Association.
Some independent owners have also joined hands with culinary experts to design safety protocols in line with the restaurant’s image and brand value. Some are also bent on taking a cue from restaurants in other countries like Hong Kong for instance, where restaurant owners like Syed Hussain have penned a playbook for restaurants to delve deep into maintaining safety protocols on hospitality.
Undeniably, there’s a lot of risk and way too much on the plate for restaurants. From working with disposable menus and plates, sanitizing surfaces at regular intervals, temperature checks, and rewriting menus for cooks who spend a good amount of time inside the kitchen.
Topping everything else, masks continue to be the most dominant reminder for the frail status of our world. Restaurants are dwelling upon the available options like surgical ones, which are, by comparison, the least expensive investment. Or maybe they will resort to plastic shields that can add up as a protective covering. Some have already taken to imprint their brand logo as they decide to include masks as a regular part of their daily uniform.
Every single new inclusion that promotes safety and hygiene will render restaurants the much-needed trust coming from visitors. Being a brand that has catered to millions over the year, this pandemic season might be the best time to test the mettle of these establishments.
By wearing masks and following safety protocols to serve food, restaurants will definitely have an edge to churn up their game.