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10 Shocking Changes to Restaurants Owners Are Secretly Considering

No A/C in dining rooms? Virtual menus? Here are some surprising new practices owners are discussing amongst themselves.
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As statewide lockdowns designed to stem the outbreak of COVID-19 are beginning to wind down in certain parts of the country, restaurants owners are quickly trying to figure out how they will manage in the new world. They've already been given some very strict health guidelines to follow, which will forever change the way diners experience their favorite eateries, but some are taking even further measures to promote a certain level of comfort and safety for their staff and customers.

In a Reddit thread for restaurant owners (called RestaurantOwners), users discussed what they plan to do in order to keep their employees and customers safe when they reopen. And there are some shocking moves at least some owners are prepared to make.

Here are just a few new procedures that you might expect to see the next time you step into your favorite dining establishment. To keep yourself informed, make sure to sign up for our daily newsletter to get the latest coronavirus food news delivered straight to your inbox.

1

Online ordering for dine-in service.

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Many restaurants have online ordering systems already in place for takeout or delivery orders… but instituting these systems for eat-in orders? That's a new concept. The idea of placing your order online before heading into a  restaurant (or while you're seated at your table) means that there will be much fewer materials for both you and servers to touch and exchange, such as menus, note pads, and even your bill and payment method at the end of the meal.

2

Virtual menus sent via text or email.

The ideas of having paper menus (which can be thrown out after each use) or wipeable menus (in order to disinfect them after each use) have been tossed around a lot recently. But, virtual menus may be the option a lot of restaurants end up choosing. Think: Once you sit down at a table at a restaurant, you'll receive the menu via text or email. Less contact, less of a problem. Plus, not only will restaurants be able to update their menus in a much more efficient way ("86 on the halibut!"), but they will also be able to collect your phone number and/or email for future marketing and promotional announcements in the process.

Related: Why a Global Food Shortage is Becoming a Real Concern

3

Disposable plates and cutlery only.

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According to one restaurant owner on Reddit, they do not want any reusable dishes or cutlery being handled by the public and coming back into the kitchen. So, for the time being at least? Expect more disposable plates, glasses, and flatware, even in fancy restaurants, in the near term. (Sorry, planet Earth!)

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4

Lots and lots of spray bottles and sanitizer.

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This is a rather obvious note, but restaurant diners and patrons can likely expect ubiquitous bottles of hand sanitizer and surface cleanser readily available and displayed throughout their favorite eateries. Safe and clean hands and surfaces mean a safer and cleaner dining experience.

Related: 7 Popular Restaurant Chains That May Not Survive the Pandemic

5

Majorly bare dining areas.

Depending on the cuisine and price point of your favorite restaurant, you can sometimes expect to see a table full of your favorite condiments. But, one Reddit user plans on "removing sauces and other stuff" from tables," including salt and pepper shakers, sugar packets, tobacco sauce and ketchup bottles, syrup, and other common toppers. Instead, expect to get a side of ketchup served in a plastic, single-use plastic ramekin, and sugar delivered with your coffee in individual packets. Again, the goal here is to reduce how many people are touching these common dining items.

6

No air conditioning.

man examining an outflow air vent grid and duct to see if it needs cleaning
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One restaurant owner claimed that he or she was going to refrain from running  A/C in customer areas, choosing instead to keep windows and doors open for ventilation. "If we have to run A/C," this owner wrote, "we purchased some reusable air filters that can be washed and sanitized frequently." Presumably, this might be an attempt to reduce the recirculation of air (which recent reports suggest could potentially help reduce the spread of COVID-19).

7

Waiters wearing masks.

Guidelines already state that all restaurant workers will have to wear masks now. One Reddit restaurant owner also noted that they already "transitioned to headsets" with single-use ear and mouth parts for staff members manning the telephones to use as well. (This is so staffers don't pick up or use the same phone when answering calls.)

8

Disabled hand dryers in restrooms.

Female dries wet hand in modern vertical hand dryer in public restroom
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Hand dryers in the bathrooms may be more environmentally sound, but they can also potentially spray contagions into the restroom air. So, expect a return to old school paper towels to dry hands after a trip to the restroom.

Related: 5 Things in Restaurants You'll Never See Again

9

More efficient table bussing and trash removal.

Much like the materials that customers touch will now be disposable, the bussing of tables and disposal of trash will also be made more contactless. Trash cans may be made more easy to move by putting them on dollys, which are then simply wheeled out of the restaurant, suggests one restaurant owner on Reddit. And tables may be cleared by being bussed into bus tubs that have disposable liners in them that can go straight into the dumpster.

10

Massive dining room decluttering and deep cleanings.

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Keeping the entirety of the dining room, kitchen, and storage area as free as clutter as possible can go a long way in keeping any eating establishment clean. To that end, a restaurant owner on Reddit revealed that they "Already did a major cleanup and removed everything that does not need to be used weekly to offsite storage." Adding that having a less cluttered space is easier to clean.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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