Restaurant C-Suite COVID-19 Issue | Summer 2020

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Restaurant Design Restaurant design ideas for a pandemic world By Rick Zambrano

Design will play a defining role in the restaurant industry’s next chapter. The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced layout themes that will be cemented over the next six months. Moreover, restaurant operators will lean on design both to navigate reopening restaurants and to keep customers and employees safe. For example, Chris Degan, owner of Tricky Fish at CityLine in Richardson and Fort Worth, Texas, is separating tables with plexiglass as a way to maximize capacity during reopening. “This experience will inform future design, but I think dining rooms and bars will eventually return and somewhat resemble what we used to see before COVID-19,” says Degan. “Guests are more aware and appreciative of safe sanitation practices, but when it comes to distancing, people are tolerating it out of necessity.” Degan’s premise encapsulates

many restaurant operators’ viewpoints: this pandemic will pass and they’re best served by responding to the moment and showing they can adapt their practices to the best interests of their guests.

Factoring design into the future of operations Many restaurant operators yearn for a return to the social aspect of dining. Consumers dine at restaurants for the experience, and restaurants have differentiated themselves from food retailers by becoming purveyors of occasions. However, the restaurants that we have come to know may change substantially over time as off-premises business grows. Restaurant delivery and pickup are accelerating rapidly, fueled by restrictions and fears arising from the COVID-19 health crisis.