Restaurant Loyalty and Memories
I am not the first and certainly will not be the last person to say that COVID-19 has devastated the restaurant industry. The shutdowns and scaled back operations were and remain devastating.
The restaurants who could not stay in business will hopefully reflect on the experience and do a self-assessment to determine what if anything they could have done differently to continue with their operations. Why is this important? Many reasons but the fact is that most experienced eatery owners have restaurant life in their blood and despite all the challenges and bad memories will start a new restaurant some time in the future and that self-reflection will be critical to their future success.
Those restaurants that survive will be stronger and better equipped to handle the unthinkable should it arise in the future. There is one critical point of the experience that I hope is not lost on them. You and I as well as countless others continually supported these establishments with curbside pickup, takeout, delivery, and donations to various fundraising campaigns. Those relationships must not be taken for granted! I am not suggesting that these people be given discounts, but when “normal” dine-in resumes those who supported you must be acknowledged. This could be as simple as giving them a table even if your establishment and reservations are full or if there is a waitlist. It also means that owners should make a point to acknowledge guests at their tables who supported them on an ongoing basis.
Are these people special? You bet your bottom dollar they are! It would have been easy for them to cook at home, but they chose to spend money at your business during a pandemic and a recession! Even if their guest check is only $50, they are more important to the future success of your business than an impromptu or unknown diner comes in and incurs a $200 guest check.