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Despite shifting rules and capacity restrictions for foodservice businesses due to COVID-19, people are starting to grab coffee together again, dine out with their friends and enjoy a martini or two with their colleagues after work.
After all, entertainment venues such as restaurants, bars, and clubs are places people visit to mingle, exchange ideas and have fun in the company of others.
But as people return to their favourite coffee shops and eating places, the new post-pandemic chapter is shaping to look a lot different for restaurant owners aiming to attract patrons and strengthen their brand.
Besides offering delicious food items, they’ll have to satisfy diners’ evolving expectations – especially their appetites for new tech advancements.

Restaurants and bars are recovering sooner than predicted

McKinsey predicted last year that the foodservice industry would take four years to recover, but things are already looking brighter for food establishments in Canada and south of the border.
Although the pandemic has sent shockwaves through Canada’s foodservice industry, wreaking havoc across the entire sector, the industry is finally seeing signs of positive change, according to Restaurants Canada’s 2021 Foodservice Facts.
Restaurants Canada expects that the industry will not only rebound but grow more than initially expected, as consumers are showing a willingness to return to restaurant dining.
The U.S. Restaurant Association projects that the food and beverage sales in the industry will total $789 billion in 2021 – a 20 percent increase from 2020.
In May, eating and drinking places already surpassed the February 2020 pre-pandemic sales volume of $66.2 billion. The total registered sales of $67.3 billion on a seasonally-adjusted basis, the association said, citing preliminary data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Food establishments are easing capacity restrictions as vaccination rates shoot up

The main factor facilitating the reopening of restaurants, bars and pubs has been the high vaccination rate which has significantly reduced the risk of transmission.
More than 60 percent of Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while in Canada, that figure stands at over 75 percent.
Regardless of concerns over emerging COVID-19 variants, the latest being Omicron, many North American restaurants, bars, concession stands and other food or drink establishments are easing indoor capacity restrictions.
Nonetheless, many dining places continue to be mindful of crowd size and physical distancing as Coronavirus is mostly spread when people are within six feet of one another or have direct contact with the infected person.

Diners want more convenience, safety and frictionless digital experiences

A Deloitte report has shown that consumers are demanding more convenience and seamless digital experiences, a trend further accelerated by COVID-19.
This means that foodservice players will have to up their customer experience game in order to be successful with patrons in the post-pandemic landscape.
As consumption patterns change, the following three trends have emerged as the ultimate industry transformers, according to Deloitte:
Ultimate convenience. In a more off-premises world, drive-through, takeout, and delivery are becoming more and more popular.
Frictionless digital experiences. Digital engagement is a must for tech-savvy restaurant patrons. They demand cutting-edge technology options that recognize them and know their preferences.
Heightened safety in the wake of COVID-19. Remote work models and crowd avoidance are reshaping people’s dining habits.

Wellness screening stations and vaccine verification are accelerating the return of table service

Delivery and takeout services have surged in popularity since the onset of the pandemic, but the signs of foodservice recovery are indicative that people have grown hungry for indoor dining.
Now that people are ready to return to normal, the role of technology in easing the reopening of food establishments cannot be overstated.
Tech solutions enabling wellness screening, people counting, capacity management and vaccine verification allow restaurant owners to make their patrons feel safe, so they can relax and enjoy their dining experience to the fullest.

Conclusion: Foodservice establishments need superior solutions to delight patrons and secure loyalty

Diners don’t want the inconvenience of lengthy vaccination checks and wellness screening processes as they wait to be seated at their table.
Unless better, safer and seamless digital experiences are on the menu, diners will opt for places that are part of the offer.
This is why foodservice companies shouldn’t bother with cookie-cutter solutions but get customized tech tools that encourage repeat visits and drive patron loyalty.
EAIGLE is on a quest to deliver the best-in-class AI-enabled tools that protect visitors and employees while stopping the spread of COVID-19. Visit to learn about our Digital Vaccine Pass and palette of wellness screening solutions.