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Outlining restaurants’ new reality: 4 best practices for a safer restaurant

Photograph: Shutterstock

COVID-19 has prompted the phrase “new normal” in reference to the altered practices mandated by the ongoing pandemic. But what exactly are consumers expecting from restaurants in terms of protecting the health and safety of their patrons? Here are four best practices to maintain a hygienic, safe environment and improve diners’ comfort level in the restaurant:

1.     Bring safety to the table

 Social distancing reigns supreme among health protocols, and restaurant dining rooms are no exception. According to Technomic’s June 2020 report, How COVID-19 is Transforming Consumer Foodservice Behavior, creating more distance between tables is the top safety measure that makes consumers feel comfortable dining in, with 30% of consumers citing this as priority. Consumers’ second request is to have sanitizing wipes available at tables, and the CDC’s guidelines for restaurants and bars recommends finding alternatives for high-touch, hard-to-clean items commonly found on restaurant tables, such as menus and condiment bottles.

For much of the pandemic, outdoor seating has been a lifesaver for restaurants seeking safer on-premise dining options. Outdoor patios, outfitted with upgrades like heat lamps and fireplaces, can enable operators to offer outdoor dining even as colder months approach. Regardless of how these restaurants execute their new hygiene practices, distanced dining options are a must-have for health-conscious consumers, and a requirement in municipalities enforcing capacity limits.

2.     Highlight health protocol

Wary consumers won’t be won over by promises to prioritize health alone—seeing is believing when it comes to restaurant cleanliness. The Technomic report mentioned above found that consumers’ top expectation for restaurant cleanliness is to see staff visibly cleaning high-touch areas, with 56% of consumers calling this out as a priority.

The benefit of calling attention to health-supporting practices doesn’t stop there. In its recent report, Reach for the Stars: Designing a safer restaurant experience, Tork, a leading global hygiene and health  brand, recommends placing hygiene products in accessible areas to boost guests’ confidence. The report notes, too, that clear communication is key; posting signs that dictate safety measures or share cleaning schedules can provide an added sense of comfort.

3.     Minimize contact

The digital solutions which may have been an added convenience in years past have now become key strategies for supporting health and safety. Tork’s Reach for the Starsreport recommends digitizing menus and offering mobile payments as ways to create a contactless restaurant experience.

Also, leveraging off-premise dining options—including drive-thrus, takeout and delivery—will continue to be key restaurant services that keep customers safe and sales margins high. A seamless mobile platform to support easy ordering and pickup can give operators a competitive advantage as more consumers choose to dine off-premise. 

4.     Switch to single-use products

As simple a solution as they may be, paper towels can be a gamechanger for promoting the safety and comfort of diners and restaurant employees alike.

A vast majority of consumers prefer paper hand towels to air dryers, with a recent study from Tork finding that 70% of North Americans wish more facilities offered paper hand towels as an alternative to air dryers—and 33% of consumers now have more of a preference for paper hand towels than they did before the pandemic’s onset.

Of the consumers surveyed, 71% considered paper hand towels more hygienic, and with good reason: A report from Mayo Clinic found that paper towels outperform air dryers in drying hands quickly and effectively, in removing bacteria and in preventing cross-contamination within the washroom. After all, what’s more foundational to preventing the virus’ spread than effective handwashing?

Tork offers a wide array of solutions to help operators keep their washrooms as clean as possible. A variety of paper hand towel and hand towel dispenser options ensures that any and every restaurant can find the solution that’s right for them and their diners.

Excellent hygiene solutions, plus best practices from the experts at Tork, can prepare restaurateurs for success during these challenging times. To learn more about how Tork hygiene solutions can improve safety and customer satisfaction for restaurants, click here.

This post is sponsored by Essity, makers of the Tork brand of Professional Hygiene products

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