For almost all of February, China has battled to contain the novel Coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19. This has lead the economy to nearly being shut down. Now that the virus has continued to spread to other nations, restaurants around the globe are beginning to suffer. As sales are declining, we'll explain how some are altering their operations.
With national and global health organizations warning Americans to expect the Coronavirus to impact their daily lives in some way. Restaurants around the country making changes.
A number of restaurants are stepping up their sanitation efforts
Atlanta quick-service stalwart The Varsity, which has added a shift position solely focused on sanitation. “That’s all they do,” Varsity President Gordon Muir told Atlanta’s AJC. “Start at the front door and continue around the whole building and wiping doors, tables, napkin holders on the table. That’s all this person does all day long.”
One three-unit Southern California concept is taking coronavirus preparedness a step further. Sichuan Impression is using infrared thermometers to screen prospective customers for fever before allowing them to dine, according its Instagram post.
While you can’t come into contact with the virus through food, the hard surfaces you encounter in a restaurant, such as menus, utensils, salt shakers and the like, are another story. Pay particular attention to wiping things down." Larry Lynch, SVP of National Restaurant Association
Restaurants are encouraging takeout
Employees who are working from home and consumers are expected to choose restaurants that offer take out or food delivery to avoid contact with restaurant employees and other customers. MarketWatch suggested that restaurants with online ordering and food-delivery options would benefit from the coronavirus panic. Take out is already a fast-growing sector, and it is reasonable to conclude that if we were to have a serious outbreak, it would be an acceleration of the previous trend.
Prior to the Coronavirus, the National Restaurant Association predicted that 70% of customers would eat off-premise by 2020 regardless. If you do not have online ordering for your customers we recommend signing up for a free account with EBS Orders. You'll get free online ordering with 0% commissions or fees for your website & Facebook page. If you don't have a website, they offer them beginning at only $9 per month.
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Accept mobile & non-contact payment options
Cash could help spread COVID-19 according to the World Health Organization, so contactless payment is the safer option for now. The WHO says that the virus could stay on money for days after exposure, and people should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer after handling cash. Businesses can also cut down on contact by not requiring a signature at checkout. In a low-value purchase, think a coffee and a sandwich, a signature adds no true fraud protection.
Instead, people should use contactless payments whenever possible. China is already well into becoming a cashless society, the People's Bank of China said last month that China would double down on mobile payments to avoid unnecessary human contact. Wells Fargo is also getting involved by offering their customers who use Apple Pay at its ATM's, a $5 bonus on their statement.
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COVID-19’s spread has also forced the closure of a number of restaurants
Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) concept The Modern closed Monday after learning that Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who had recently dined there, had tested positive for the respiratory illness.
Panera Bread in Council Bluffs, Iowa, closed for several days for a deep cleaning after a worker there showed symptoms of the coronavirus, according to local media reports. Panera did not immediately respond to a Restaurant Business request for comment on the situation.
An entire restaurant group in Seattle, with concepts including Steelhead Diner, Blueacre Seafood, Orfeo and more, announced it would temporarily close all of its locations “due to the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 coronavirus,” according to an Eater report.
We've seen at least a 50-70% drop with tourists coming through the market and our sales compared to last year and the years before." Alexander Vaughan, Piroshky Piroshky Bakery (Seattle, WA)
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