Here’s How Dining Is Going to Look Different Once Restaurants Reopen

Updated: Nov. 27, 2023

Coronavirus has changed the way we dine at restaurants for the time being. The good news? Not all of the changes are bad.

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A Mexican restaurant adapts to the Covid-19 lockdown. The owner is cleaning the window wearing a mask and gloves.
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It’s no surprise that the food service industry has taken a hit during the coronavirus pandemic. Curbside pick-up, Uber Eats and take-out orders became the new normal overnight as we learned to stay safe indoors. As restaurants are looking to start to reopen, you may see some changes popping up at your favorite establishments. Spoiler alert: It’s not all bad news.

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Woman in outdoor restaurant
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Increased outdoor seating

If you live in an area with great weather, this is a welcome change. Who doesn’t love enjoying a meal outdoors? For the time being, many restaurants are opening up their outdoor seating arrangements at half capacity. This way, restaurants can lower the risk of exposure and can increase social distancing measures. If the idea of eating at a restaurant still makes you nervous, grab your order to go and plan a picnic instead.

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6 feet distance and the one-way direction is marked outside of a store where customers are waiting in a line to enter the store.
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Creative ways to maintain 6 feet apart

Be prepared to see many creative and unusual social distancing practices popping up at your local restaurants and small businesses. European cafes and restaurants have already hopped on this trend by using pool noodles or setting up mini greenhouses to keep patrons 6 feet apart.

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Server wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19
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You’ll have your waiter’s full attention

With fewer tables to take care of, your waiter may be able to offer even better service. Slowing things down creates an opportunity to make connections—albeit muffled through a mask. Get to know your waiter and bond by sharing funny or memorable quarantine stories.

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coronavirus take-out
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Take-out > Dining in

Take-out orders will remain all the rage for the next coming months as people are starting to warm up to dining out. No matter if you go the take-out or dine-in route, you’re still supporting your favorite restaurant either way. Enjoy your take-out safely by opting for no-contact delivery and washing your hands often.

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Woman alone in restaurant
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Fewer crowds

The CDC’s restaurant guidelines recommend that establishments should reduce their seating capacity to allow for social distancing. So if you’re planning on dining out, make sure to avoid peak hours or else you may be put on a lengthy waitlist. But hey, there is a perk to this. With a customer limit in place, that means you’ll have a quieter ambiance while dining out.

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Customer at the checkout makes mobile payment with the smartphone
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Contactless payments

During stay-at-home orders, most restaurants and essential businesses preferred, or even requested, that customers pay with touchless methods like Apple Pay or with a debit or credit card. Cash or checks may still be discouraged when you’re dining out to limit the spread of germs.

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A young Chinese woman is carefully reading the menu made of wood at a restaurant on a fine day in Trondheim, Norway.
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Simpler menus

Lengthy menus and buffet-style restaurants may take a while to return to the restaurant scene. During these transitional months, expect to see a slimmed-down selection of items, including the establishment’s most popular and seasonal dishes. This allows restaurants to plan appropriately and use up their stock efficiently.

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Man working in a coffee shop wearing a mask
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Extensive cleaning procedures

Masks, gloves and sanitizing stations are about to become the new norm along with other extensive cleaning and disinfecting procedures. How can you do your part? Wear a mask before eating and always remember to wash your hands.

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Disposable ECO-friendly tableware made of bamboo wood and paper on a cardboard background. The photo is covered in graininess and noise.
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A rise in single-use utensils

In some restaurants, common items from plates and cups to forks and spoons will be single-use. Now’s not the time to be sharing drinks and appetizers, either (but honestly, this just means more food for you!).

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Female chef restaurant owner posing holding an Open Sign outside her restaurant wearing a mask because Covid-19
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Increased appreciation for small businesses, waiters and chefs

When times get tough, we lean on each other. Now’s the time to show your appreciation and support your favorite restaurants. Tip a little extra, smile a little more and order your favorite dishes, of course. We’ll all get through this strange transitional time together.