This year we are fraught with a massive pandemic outbreak and as we approach the end of the year, where we would typically be celebrating with a gastronomical feast, it’s not will not be business as usual. Since March earlier this year, Singapore has implemented stringent social distancing measure in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Following this is a three-month Circuit Breaker, where most businesses were forced to stop operation unless they were classified as essential services. This has severely impacted the F&B industry as they struggle to stay afloat due to the drastic reduction in food orders. Many have pivoted their businesses to be adaptive to new forms of operations which include: reduced headcount, digitalisation and implementation of safety measures. These measures have become part of the new norm and could potentially alter how restaurants operate in the future — post-pandemic.
The first problem that restauranteurs face is how they can woo back their regular patrons. Innovative food concepts are paramount in attracting back these customers were may have changed their habit of eating out to having meals at home. Spurred by the wide adoption of food delivery services, customers no longer have to dine in restaurants and could enjoy their meals at the comfort of their homes. However, while it is true that customers can enjoy their meals at home, the restaurant experience is something that cannot be replicated in a home setting. Therefore, restauranteurs have to be able to curate an experience that diners will enjoy and not skimp of providing the best service to them. “Diners will appreciate the small details that they can’t get from delivery meals, so dine-in will need to step up its game in terms of service,” says Stephan Zoisl, chef and founder of Chef’s Table by Chef Stephan. If diners are able to emotively connect with the restaurants, chances are they will be back again.
Hygiene is the bedrock of operating a restaurant and post-COVID, it will become even more important. Surfaces will be coated with a layer of anti-microbial substances, cleaned more frequently and there will be more open kitchens. An article by Dezeen and a report by Roar, led by leading interior designer Pallavi Dean, have predicted that open kitchens will become more common as it promotes transparency in addition to showcasing the prowess of the chefs. Furthermore, diners can also observe the cleanliness and be rest assured of the restaurant’s commitment to hygiene.
Lastly, there will be fewer contact points as restaurants emerge from the pandemic. This is partly due to our economy that is rapidly digitising and the government’s push for more businesses to incorporate more electronic solutions such as contactless payment methods. As scanning QR codes become synonymous with daily life activities, restaurants are more likely to do away with their physical menus with a digital one. A one-stop payment system can also be done where diners can make an order on their smartphones and pay right away. Data can be retrieved and analysed, thus helping restaurant owners to make informed business decisions and modify their strategies in accordance with what has been evaluated.
No doubt, restaurants in Singapore will be different as they adapt to the new way of life post-pandemic and this encourages greater originality while not sacrificing on ensuring the safety of its diner as we slowly transition into Phase 3. Looking at how the pandemic has panned out, it could be said that it merely accelerated the existing trends and reinforced the importance of being adaptive to unforeseen circumstances.