How COVID-19 will change restaurant experience

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The world will definitely not be the same after this COVID-19 pandemic, and many aspects of our daily lives – even those that seem trivial – will be impacted. Some of them changed for good and, I will argue, also for the better.

Recent interactions a good friend – Miguel Cizeron, an experienced Chef who is opening a new Restaurant in Portugal – made me think of something everyone experiences and will definitely change soon: going out for a meal with friends or family.

Every time we go out for a meal, we are looking for a enjoyable experience. Either we go to McDonald’s with our kids, expecting to see them happy and having fun. Or we go to a fancy restaurant with friends, for a pleasurable and unique experience.

But many times the experience is below par. The food is great (every McDonald’s has tasty burgers and chips, and all fancy restaurants have delicious dishes) but the experience is so much more than food – it’s the the ambiance, the service, the people around us.

More often than desirable, one of those things ruins the overall experience. You wait before getting seated; there’s so much noise that you need to shout for others to hear; people next to you hear your conversation; staff struggles with so many orders.

The social distancing measures that will need to be put in place, due to the pandemic, will most probably change a dinning experience. And, as far as I’m concerned (I hate crowded places), it will change it for the better.

We don’t know yet what governments and policies will enforce, and what the regulations will look like. But surely people will have to make reservations and arrive on time, avoiding queues and people waiting in cramped entrances.

Restaurants will have to reduce capacity, increasing distance between tables. This means customers will be much more comfortable. There won’t be too much noise, people can have private conversations, staff will be more attentive, etc.

My Chef friend asked a good question: “If restaurants reduce capacity, they’ll probably have to increase prices”. My answer, based on public research, is “No problem” – because most people (like me) will gladly pay more for a more enjoyable experience.

 

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