Not much if anything has remained unchanged about the foodservice industry since COVID-19 has forced the industry to adapt and shift in nearly every aspect. Across the United States there are varying levels of re-opening and operating capacity as well as various rules and regulations foodservice and beverage business need to adhere to. Outside of abiding by new regulations and rules surrounding increased healthy and safety measures, there is also a large question mark about the comfort level of people all over the nation in returning to restaurants and bars. As businesses do reopen there is a significant amount of staff training and extra cleaning that occurs every single day. Especially as more and more guests choose to dine-in, facilities need to maintain high standards of cleanliness to accomodate guests.
Our tabletop expert, Julie Pandl, was consulted by FE&S' Magazine to get a sense for how tabletop settings should change when offering dine-in service in the COVID-19 era. The article, Tabletops Get Makeovers Courtesy of COVID-19 lays out the new landscape and has some key considerations for the tables and dining areas in your establishment:
- Simple is better right now, items collect germs and that is the last thing people are interested in. The fewer items on the table the better, and they should be items that are visibly clean.
- Check the settings on your dishwashing equipment and trust your machines to do their job and sanitize all dishes, cutlery, and silverware. Staff should be trained to handle these items with incredible care and the utmost in safety precautions. Some operators feel most comfortable with wrapping silverware. There are a number of options here depending on the type of establishment and the menu itself.
- Consider only adding items to the table once people are seated so there is less of a chance it will come in to contact with anyone or anything else. A bare clean table may be the most comforting and reassuring element to guests choosing to dine in. It also may make things easier for staff.
- Get rid of shared condiments bottles and containers and bring these dressings out in smaller dishes or sauce cups. Servers could potentially add cheese, salt, and pepper mills to the meals.
- Many operators are entirely rethinking physical menus and opting for more digital solutions like scanning QR codes or having people access the menu through the restaurants app or website.
- Understand that COVID-19 isn't going away tomorrow and it isn't going away in the near future so plan accordingly and change your processes and structure to accomodate. It's best to get set yourself up to succeed in what has become our new normal. Heed the precautions recommended, and listen to advice from the NRA, CDC, and other industry leaders to determine the best path forward for your business, employees, and customers.