As the country as a whole, and New England in particular, begins the slow process of reopening, restaurant owners are thinking deeply about the "new normal" when it comes to customer relations. Some changes are pretty obvious. For example, due to "social distancing" requirements, restaurants are planning on roping off various tables and booths so as to ensure that customers keep the required social distance between them.
INVENTORYING YOUR RESTAURANT FOR THE NEW NORMAL
Restaurant owners are doing an inventory of their current set up to figure out the best way to keep a good distance between customers, and between customers and waiters. The "devil is in the detail," however. For example, we've heard restaurant owners talk about things as specific as whether or not salt and pepper shakers will be on the tables, or whether customers will a) have to ask for them, and b) they will be cleaned and disinfected after each use. Another issue is masks. Obviously, customers can't wear masks when they're eating. But waiters or waitresses can wear masks (and probably should). Still another issue is the use of app's. Many restaurants already have proprietary apps for take-out, and there is talk about using apps so that customers can sit down and yet order "remotely," thus reducing one contact point between customers and staff.
HAND SANITIZER IN RESTAURANTS
As for hand sanitizer, it may become a best practice for each and every restaurant, whether it's an upscale dining establishment on Newbury Street in Boston, or a downscale pizzeria out in the Boston suburbs, to have a complimentary bottle of hand sanitizer at the entrance and perhaps at each table. In that way, guests can easily and quickly sanitize their hands as they enter the restaurant and then again at each table. The "new normal" is going to mean a big increase in demand for hand sanitizer and require some work on the part of restaurant owners and staff to blend in these requirements without destroying the "fun" of eating out.
We're excited about the re-opening of New England states like Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, and are eagerly monitoring the appropriate authorities for regulations, tips, and guidelines about how to open in a safe and effective way.