There are many things people might miss about the now-outdated notion of going to a restaurant without wearing a mask, ordering food without being behind perspex glass and being served without gloves. However, there are lots of things that won’t be missed–bar queues, communal dining, shared food platters, and recycled bread.
Eating much more simply
Noma, in Copenhagen–voted four times as the World’s Best Restaurant–reopened after lockdown to temporarily serve burgers, and it’s a cue for how many high-end restaurants envisage a much simpler life after lockdown (the same has happened in China since the pandemic).
Fast casual restaurant brands will be in a better position to fight back, as the new socially distanced model relies more on takeaway–ordered through technology–than sit-down white tablecloths and two sittings a night, where operating margins were too high anyway.
An end to recycled bread baskets
It was famed chef, Anthony Bourdain, who claimed in his Kitchen Confidential book that the reuse of bread was industry-wide; that it was common for busboys to send rolls back into the dining room if they looked untouched in baskets. In a post-Covid eatery, diners won’t miss the end of second-hand bread.
The end to communal dining and bar queues
It goes without saying that the enforcement of social distancing measures will eliminate the possibility of communal dining, sharing tables with strangers. Restaurants around the world are capping group sizes between 4 to 8 people, and diners must be from the same social or family bubbles.
It might also be easier to get a drink. Party groups will be limited, many bars have taken out stools to reduce crowding and gone are the days of standing three deep trying to attract the barperson’s attention. Drinks will arrive at the table after being ordered and paid for through an app.
Online waitlists and reservations
To keep people apart and ease fears about contagion, waitlists will become completely digital and online reservations the norm. People will be asked to arrive exactly at the allotted reservation time, to ensure, as according to FSR (Full Service Restaurants), that everything remains as touchless as possible.
The end of shared food
As Grub Street points out, people won’t be so keen to take up the offer of free dessert on birthdays or sharing cheese plates, barbecue wings and nachos amongst groups who don’t normally socialise together. It might finally be the end of the office party.