The Restaurants in Your City That Everyone Will Flock to First
Some good news for independent restaurants and mom-and-pop businesses comes in the latest survey of consumer behavior conducted by Zagat. The restaurant guide polled 6,775 people on their interests, habits, and concerns around the impact of the pandemic on restaurants and dining out. The results showed a definite level of safety fears but also nostalgia for our comfort food haunts.
Among the most interesting takeaways pertaining to the restaurant industry is that most people are going to be slow to warm up to the idea of dining out again (only 7% said they'd dine in a restaurant within a week after reopening while the majority would wait 3–4 weeks or more to dine in after reopening). However, independent restaurants that comprise the colorful fabric of neighborhood dining may have a leg up in attracting customers back.
When asked what establishments they had missed the most during lockdown, 57% of people chose "favorite neighborhood spot", followed by 33% voting for "favorite fine dining restaurant", 8% voting for "cocktail bar", and only 2% for "go-to fast food/fast casual chain". People will clearly end up flocking to their favorite small businesses in their own neighborhoods first, so a resurgence of sales may be in the cards for these types of restaurants in the first few months after reopening.
Another interesting piece of data for restaurants to keep in mind as they attempt to attract back their old clientele is that people have overwhelmingly chosen outdoor seating as the most important factor in feeling safer when dining out. A majority of 77% said outdoor seating would make them more likely to dine in a restaurant, while 67% said reduced indoor seating would make them more likely to dine-in. However, some have expressed concerns about the atmosphere at restaurants being different because of limited seating, which is a big part of the lure of eating out. "Besides the food, I also go to places because of the atmosphere. If there was no atmosphere, I might be discouraged," noted one participant.
Similarly, social distancing and staff wearing masks were singled out as the safety precautions the vast majority of diners would like to see restaurants take to make them feel safer. This goes to show how those two factors have become a base-level of protection we expect from a post-pandemic world, as we try to define what the new normal looks like. Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest food and restaurant news delivered straight to your inbox.