Across the country, restaurants have had to completely change the way they operate and supply food to their patrons. While the country waits for social distancing rules to be lifted, restaurants are having to improvise by offering curbside and delivery services to customers rather than dine-in options. And while some major chain restaurants and fast food companies were experimenting with these alternative food service options before COVID-19 hit the U.S., most restaurants have had to create a makeshift curbside option structure.
For restaurants that have to stick with curbside-only options for the next few weeks or months, it would help to have a more structured outline so that customers are satisfied with their service and the quality of their food.
Mapping It Out
While there may be limited time and resources to spend pouring over curbside service planning, laying a foundation can help to alleviate stress and confusion down the road. First, it starts with the layout of the restaurant and its parking spaces.
In order for curbside service to thrive there needs to be enough parking for people to drive up to. Parking spots for curbside pickup should be near a window so that employees can see when someone pulls up. It also helps to inform customers to call when they arrive in order to let the staff know they are ready to pick their food up.
During regular service, restaurants may opt for specific curbside-only parking spots for customers to pull into. But with the spread of COVID-19 and the temporary block on in-house dining, all parking can be seen as curbside pickup. However, after laws are lifted and customers are able to eat inside, it is important to have designated curbside-only spots to park.
It’s important to package up all food orders in a way that they can transport safely. No one wants spilled ramen or to have to deal with saucy chicken wings leaking onto a floorboard. Restaurants can do a few test runs of their own to make sure delivery/curbside packaging is adequate enough to keep from spilling or leaking.
This is also true for hot drinks and lids. Everyone has heard of the hot coffee case from 1992 involving fast food giant McDonald’s and a claimant who ended up being awarded nearly $3 million stating that her beverage burned her. With the rise in carryout service across restaurants, it might be high tide for claimants to try the same thing. In this case, restaurants and coffee shops should make sure all their beverages are secure and able to withstand a drive home, and contain the necessary “hot” warnings when applicable.
If someone is burned, they may feel inclined to bring a case against that restaurant. This is where having a good lawyer and a solid Restaurant liability insurance package are important. By obtaining Restaurant liability insurance, establishments can keep from major financial losses due to claims like these, which is especially helpful during strained financial times such as these.
For now, all service is curbside or delivery, so restaurants may have already had to reduce their staff during certain times of the day. Moving forward, however, it would help to have dedicated curbside-only staff members serve customers. Restaurants should designate personnel to work the curbside pickup station so they can take the orders, prepare the order, package the food, and watch for customers to arrive.
Curbside pickup should be done as fast as possible. While there may be a little leeway during limited food service opportunity during the pandemic, when things get back up and running, there will be an expectation of having food ready to go. Time wasting can crush a restaurant’s curbside service operation, so finding ways to keep it efficient can help it thrive long after the virus has disappated.
For instance, the staff working the curbside station should approach the car with the right order, extra change, and a credit card reader if that customer still needs to pay. This will help to make the transaction easy and less time consuming.
About RMS Hospitality Group
At RMS Hospitality Group, our expertly crafted policies are written specifically for the hospitality industry. We offer custom-tailored solutions to meet any venue’s specific needs. For more information, contact our knowledgeable experts today at (888) 359-8390.
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