With many nations saying they are restricting in-restaurant dining and implementing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants are facing the hard choice of shifting to takeout and delivery only—or shuttering the business temporarily. Indeed, OpenTable reports in-restaurant dining is down 90%. This is forcing restaurants to pivot to delivery, takeout and curbside options.

Everyone from large restaurant brands, such as McDonald’s and Chick-Fil-A, to smaller chains and independent restaurants are working to adopt similar changes to fulfill orders as fewer and fewer consumers venture out.


How to serve your guests while maintaining social distancing

Here are some tips on how you can re-optimize your restaurant space to support the shift to takeout- and curbside-only operations.

  • Rethink your drive-thru: Your existing drive-thru offers a space to serve, so consider adding a Y-lane or separate lane to allow customers to pick up orders without having to step out of their car.
  • Put a dedicated pick-up zone near the entrance: This allows customers to quickly grab their food. Keep in mind that if it’s not supervised, we recommend providing signage with instructions on what to do and a phone number for customers to call when they arrive, or in case of any issues.
  • Offer six feet of space inside, per the CDC: If you plan on having your guests come inside to pick up orders, strategically position the pickup area – whether at the bar or host stand – to let guests comfortably stand at least 6 feet apart from your staff and other guests.
  • Provide sanitation options to put guests at ease: Put hand sanitizer or cleaning wipes near the entry. Consider keeping your inner doors open to minimize the amount of door handles customers need to touch.
  • Double seal and optimize your packaging: When prepping the order for pickup, make sure items are securely double-sealed and fastened. Consider adding a flyer or sticker that thanks your customers for their support, as well as reassures them you’ve taken extra precautions with their order. Also consider adding a coupon to encourage future visits and providing your social media handles for future updates and offers.
  • Shift your labor: Think through ways your existing staff can stay on to support your pivot to takeout. Assign “runners” to serve as go-betweens from the kitchen to the customer pick-up station. Be sure to swap out so someone isn’t constantly exposed to customers and be sure they practice proper and frequent hand washing.
  • Dedicate parking spots for curbside pick-ups: Make it easy to know where curbside guests are parked and increase service speed for employees who are making runs outside the restaurant. Consider having your guests open their trunk for the order to minimize the contact exchange.
  • When shifting to a takeout-only operational model, get creative with your existing restaurant layout. See how you can reconfigure it to best serve your operation’s needs while also reassuring your guests.

CARDINAL & NCR is deeply committed to helping you navigate this uncertain time. Let us know how we can help as you transform your restaurant to address the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and be sure to keep checking NCR.com/coronavirus for updates, guidance and other helpful information.