Redesigning Our Restaurant Operation

In a world of uncertainty, there is one thing we know will never change – people still need to eat! But the way our restaurants look, feel, and operate will be different for a very long time. 

As a global organisation we have the benefit of sharing best practices and learnings with colleagues across the globe, including those who are coming out the other side of their Coronavirus lockdowns. And their consumer insights are invaluable, to say the least! We appreciate that there will always be cultural differences. Still, people’s response to the Coronavirus has been widely replicated as each nation works to identify what’s the best way possible to keep people safe. 

Armed with these insights, we kicked off a “Let’s Get Back to Business!” Project team to ensure that our restaurants that remain open are supported during these challenging times, and we are ready for the rest of our estate to re-open as restrictions are lifted.

Our project team has created a “Post-Coronavirus Operating Playbook,” which brings together everything we have learned from around the globe as well as from our own subject matter experts right here in Ireland.  Our Playbook allows clients to consider and select a bespoke service solution based on their own requirements and budget. This will ensure that even though much has changed, we continue to do what we always have done; provide nutritious, tasty food in a welcoming and safe environment. 

What we know…
  • As people emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, they will ease into environments that provide a comfort zone.
  • Consumers are excited at the prospect of re-engaging with friends over food, but not ready for big crowds that make it impossible to keep your distance.
  • When people return to work, about half would have no concerns dining in a restaurant, just as many would be brown-bagging it more than they did pre-pandemic.
  • As restaurants reopen, consumers will come back, but they will want some reassurance. Sanitation and social distancing are key.
  • Consumers need to see everything from frequent cleaning of high-touch areas to employees in safety apparel to making sure food is covered for protection.
Our response…
  • Entrance  As customers enter the restaurant, they will be asked to sanitise their hands. However, the customer journey begins long before that.  A big ‘Welcome Back’ is essential as well as information on our new service offers and reassurance that we are taking all necessary precautions to make their visit safe and enjoyable.
  • Service Times –We will safely manage the number of customers in our restaurants at any given time. Solutions vary from designated visit times, extended service times and highlighted quiet times to encourage our customers to visit during off peak times. All this managed through our advanced digital app platform.
  • Social Distancing keeps us all safe & healthy –We have measures in place throughout our restaurant to encourage social distancing and highlighting the logical flow of the restaurant to encourage one-way traffic and so on. We want our customers to feel safe and our customer communications are designed to guide and protect.
  • Food Offer – Naturally, our food offer will be a little different while we get back to a new normal. This will include increased grab n’ go and retail solutions, assisted serve rather than self-serve, and an increased healthy offer that customers are craving after indulging in some comfort food during these uncertain times!
  • Alternative Service Solutions –While we are doing everything we can to make our restaurant safe & welcoming, we understand that not everyone will be ready to return quite yet. Therefore, we have explored alternative service solutions, including pre-order & collect, desk delivery, and an enhanced grab & go offering.
  • Till point – Similar to what you will have experienced in supermarkets over the past number of weeks, we have implemented queue management & screens at till points. We are also encouraging our customers to go cashless where possible.
  • Dining Area –Dining areas that remain open will have table layouts re-arranged to facilitate social distancing. Increased sanitation is important and self-cleaning kits will also be available for customers to wipe down before and after use.
  • Re-thinking Hospitality –Having a meeting or event? We got it covered! Our culinary team has been working hard behind the scenes to come up with solutions to your hospitality offer. Gone are the ‘help yourself’ sandwich platters and buffets; these are being replaced with a delicious range of breakfast & lunchtime individual multi-compartment boxes.
  • Considerations for all other touchpoints – We have of course considered all other customer touchpoints including tray sanitisation regime and BYO cutlery kits to mention just a few!
  • Back of House – What we are doing for our people behind the scenes is just as important as front of house. Some of the measures we are taking are detailed below:
    • All of our teams have completed e-learnings on Updated Allergen Awareness module, Updated Health and Safety module, New Food Safety eLearning & Social Distancing Training
    • Fitness to Work: All employees to complete a daily self-declaration of health and wellness on reporting for work
    • Limit entry of one staff member to any small confined area
    • Introduction of zonal system for kitchen staff

Our proposals are being kept under constant review and will evolve and adapt as we learn more and listen to both Government recommendations and our clients and consumers. We know that’s it’s essential for consumers to feel safe and comfortable in their working and recreational environments, and we need to ensure we get the balance right, focusing on providing a nutritious meal along with their desire to stay safe. At the centre of all the measures we introduce is our consumer and employee’s safety, as well as the ability to adapt and operate flexibly.