Future Restaurant Designs Post COVID-19

The food and beverage industry has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The rules keep changing along with the impact of the virus. Restaurant owners have faced modified services, patios only, closed dining rooms, limited capacities, and full shutdowns. It has been a challenge to say the least. 

Establishments have also been forced to modify their layouts to create more space between tables, install plexiglass barriers, and take other safety measures to serve their patrons safely. The pandemic will undoubtedly have a lasting effect on the industry and play a role in how restaurants are designed post COVID-19. For restaurants to be successful and survive in the future, they will need to adapt and make changes to their design and operations. 

The following offers up some ideas for how restaurant design is changing as a result of COVID-19.

Key Features Of Post Pandemic Restaurants

Restaurant spaces have undergone a transformation during the pandemic. Some of these changes will revert to pre pandemic times, while others may be here to stay for the long haul. If you are thinking about renovating your establishment you need to take into account these new restaurant design ideas. Here are a few key features that are likely to remain unchanged after the pandemic is over:

  • Flexible Seating Arrangements: New social distancing rules and regularly changing patron limits makes flexible seating arrangements imperative. Restaurants need to move away from rigid seating arrangements and use furniture that is easier to move and sanitize. Look for establishments to have a series of seating arrangements based on the different COVID-19 levels. 
  • Handwashing and sanitization stations throughout: Preventing the spread of COVID and overall cleanliness will be a top priority of future restaurant designs. Look for establishment to strategically place sanitization and handwashing stations throughout the space. They need to be portable and located in high traffic areas. Expect to see them at the front entrance, along hallways and they may even be included at each table. 
  • Improved air quality systems: COVID-19 is an airborne virus. Air purification systems have become a big investment for restaurants and other indoor businesses. They can help reduce the spread of bacteria, pollutants, and viruses. Expect to see more restaurants invest in air purification technology to help reduce the potential spread of COVID and other illnesses. Expect to see everything from smaller portable air purification units to companies completely upgrading HVAC systems to higher efficiency units. 
  • Larger pick up/delivery areas: With fewer patrons allowed to dine in, many restaurants have already expanded their takeout and delivery services. Expect establishments to make changes to their location to account for a larger pickup or delivery area. These areas could have separate entrances or be incorporated into the current design. This could extend to the parking lot by including curbside pick up areas or even an expanded drive thru area.
  • Bigger patio spaces: We have already seen patio sizes expand this year. With larger patron limits for outdoor areas, it only makes sense for restaurants to continue to invest in patios and outdoor spaces. Look for restaurants to include garage door or sliding glass walls to open up the restaurant. Expect restaurants to get creative with outdoor seating arrangements than will allow them to stay open year-round.
  • Hand free and touchless technology: Expect a greater emphasis on a hands-free environment in future restaurant designs. Look for everything from automatic doors, digital menus and payment to automatic lights and self flushing toilets in washrooms. No touch restaurant environments will help reduce transmission and it will be a preference for customers moving forward.

These are just a small sample of some of the restaurant designs you can expect to see post COVID-19. As one of the hardest hit industries, expect restaurants to make swift changes to ensure they have a sustainable future.

Updated COVID Rules For Food and Beverage Establishments

Rules can change frequently for restaurants.  Stay up to date with the most recent COVID rules for restaurant operations. Here are the official resources to get the most accurate and up to date information:

Work Safe BC – Restaurants, cafes, pubs, and nightclubs: Protocols for returning to operation

Small Business BC – Guidelines for British Columbia’s Food and Drink Services Sector

Government of BC – PHO order on restaurants, pubs and bars

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