Restaurants are beginning to reopen to full or nearly full capacity throughout the US as COVID-19 restrictions are reduced or eliminated. While the restaurant industry is eager to resume pre-pandemic business levels, ensuring employee and guest safety is still vital. As a restaurant owner or general manager, it’s essential to be sure that you’re taking all necessary precautions when it comes to your kitchen procedures, dining area, and restaurant waiting area. It is also important to have a plan for communicating your safety measures to guests because as much as they miss going out for a meal, they want to know they’re in a safe place when they come through your doors.

A couple is seated at a table in a restaurant.

Here are five features of a safe and enjoyable restaurant waiting area:

1. If you haven’t done so already, make sure the entrance area is compliant with maintaining a safe social distance between parties and the hostess.

2. If your location allows, emphasize outdoor dining as much as possible. The same is true for providing takeout, drive-through pick-up, and home delivery.

3. Clearly communicate your policies and safety procedures at your entrances, waiting area, restrooms, and at tables in addition to your restaurant’s website and all social media channels you use.

4. If your menu allows, consider allowing guests to order their meals in advance of being seated to reduce overall time spent inside.

5. For managing your restaurant waitlist system, avoid pagers or buzzers, or any other object that would be shared. Instead, deploy a digital queue management program to track and manage guests. With the Qless restaurant waitlist system, customers have the freedom to wait for their table wherever they want (in their car, walking around outside, at home) and receive updates from your staff directly to their smartphone. Restaurants with cell phone notifications to manage their restaurant waiting area experienced fewer turn-aways and no-shows. As a result of using a queue management system, guests are more willing to wait longer times for tables because they can book their table ahead of time, stay in a location that is comfortable and appealing to them, and receive updates from the hostess. When a digital restaurant waitlist system is employed, businesses find they can maintain their capacity levels, preserve safe social distancing policies, ensure guest safety, and boost the customer experience through effective communication.

A couple sits at a table drinking wine.

Ready to Make a Change to Your Restaurant’s Waiting Area?

Qless makes it easy to manage or reduce restaurant reservations, as customers “get in line” virtually for their table from a location of their choosing and are notified on their smartphone when it’s time to head over to the restaurant. If there’s one thing that’s certain in the restaurant industry, it’s that “normal” will be different than it was before the pandemic. If you’re looking for best practices to improve your restaurant’s customer experience in 2021 while managing COVID-19 regulations, request a product demo from Qless today.