What can customers expect when they visit St. Louis restaurants in the coming weeks?
What can customers expect when they visit restaurants in St. Louis in the coming weeks? – Scott V., St. Louis
The questioner also followed: “How much has the restaurant scene changed?” In truth, not much has changed since the restaurants reopened last spring following mandatory closings. The main difference is that there are now more customers – a lot more. Last spring, the returning patrons were shy and scarce; A year later, the combination of pent-up demand, warm weather, and readily available vaccines created a tidal wave of hungry customers. Here’s what you can expect.
- Slower service: Look for table tents or menus with a version of an apology upfront, such as: We’re so glad you came back! Please understand that it may take longer for us to come to your table, take your order and serve your food. However, please be patient. We do our best with the dedicated staff we have.
- Free tables: To accommodate the 6 foot spacing required, some tables may need to be left empty, especially the fixed ones. (The staff in front of the house know these tables are there so you don’t have to remind them.)
- More Reservations, fewer walk-ins: More customers who reserve fewer seats mean fewer tables for walk-in customers. Until the rush subsides, customers have to call in advance at the last minute, otherwise there is a risk of being turned away.
- Fewer customers waiting in the house: Likewise, capacity constraints force operators to control the number of customers waiting in the house by telling them to wait elsewhere and send a text as soon as their table is ready.
- Menu changes: Boards and single-use single-use menus are quicker than traditional menus. QR codes with which customers can order, reorder and pay with their mobile phone are even faster. This saves valuable time and work on site. In order to reduce storage costs and back-of-house work, the menu content and the drinks lists in the restaurants are being reduced and optimized.
- Self-order kiosks: As labor has become scarcer and more expensive, you should look for more fast food and fast casual restaurants to adopt this technology.
- Price increases: Be prepared for sticker shock. The combination of higher food costs, product shortages and significantly higher labor costs will inevitably come on the menu in the form of higher prices.
- Stocks: The interruption of the supply chains in wholesale and the availability of products mean that certain menu items are temporarily unavailable. For example, if you’ve decided on chicken wings, call ahead to check availability and prices.
- The sky will reappear: As tentative tenting permits expire this spring, the patios and patios are graciously returning to their iglos-free selves outdoors.
- Patios to the Max: Expect more extensive sidewalk seating and patios that are fully used and expanded. For better crowd control, more restaurants may be taking reservations on the terrace.
- A safer environment: Thorough and more frequent cleaning procedures, increased hand washing, available hand sanitizer, and better ventilation of the restaurant are all a must.
- Park changes: Fewer restaurant seats mean more parking spaces. Plus, the valet service has returned.
- Dear employees: Restaurateurs are doing everything more than ever to keep their employees happy. Recently, Peno owner Pepe Kehm quipped: “When a dishwasher says it needs a car, I say, ‘Which model’?”
Follow George on Twitter and Instagram, or send him an “Ask George” email at [email protected] To learn more about St. Louis Magazine, subscribe or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.