Do diners have confidence to go back to their favourite restaurants?

What's important to diners in terms of the safety measures being implemented by restaurants? SquareMeal's diners report back

Updated on 25 June 2020

Do diners have confidence to go back to their favourite restaurants?

SquareMeal’s second Consumer Confidence Survey asked its community of diners for feedback on the key health and safety measures they are likely to see when restaurants reopen their doors on 4th July. The results from over 1,000 respondents have been passed on to the restaurant community and, regardless of government guidelines, restaurants will now be able to see what’s really important to their customers. For those of you who took part, a very big thank-you!

Confidence will undoubtedly need rebuilding in some sections of the community - indeed 26% feel they are less likely to go to a restaurant compared with before Covid-19 (up from 21% at the end of April).

But, if both restaurants and diners show good common sense and awareness, we have no doubt restaurants will once again be a hugely enhancing part of our lives, aided by what appears from the survey's comment to be terrific customer support waiting to be unfettered!

So what does the survey tell us?

The vast majority of respondents want to see hand sanitiser stations at restaurant entrances, clear signage on social distancing, Perspex barriers (where necessary) and scrupulous loo cleaning and management.

Generally the same applies to sanitiser at the tables (over 70%) and deep cleaning between sittings (over 80%) albeit, in recognition of the delicate balance that needs to be struck, there’s a clear observation that too much sanitiser being sprayed could be the ruin of a finely tuned meal for the next door table. Deep cleaning with UV light anybody?

People are in flavour of single use paper menus or laminated menus that can be cleaned (over 85%), but there is debate about the advantages of staff-held blackboards or menus being viewed on personal phones, particularly as it relates to what’s good for the environment.

Only 6% disagree with manadatory temperature checks for all staff, but there’s less certainty about the wearing of face masks by front of house staff, with 40% of respondents either neutral or not wanting their waiters wearing them, and it’s an even split as to whether they should be Perspex or material. Surely a great opportunity to get the staff wearing masks with the restaurant’s branding on them, suggests one diner. Comfort is the most important thing, volunteers another. For many surgical masks are symptomatic of what restaurants need to be avoiding, with one customer recounting his recurring nightmare of stumbling into a Holby City set.

On the subject of temperature checks for diners 17% disagree and 26% are neutral, leading to the discussion that it is beholden on customers to take responsibility for their own actions. In the same spirit, some social distancing will naturally occur as non-peak times become more popular (see chart 18).

And if, having looked at these survey results, you are left wondering at the enormous task the restaurant community has, just to get the show back on the road, it’s worth reflecting on the words of UKHospitality chief Kate Nicholls: “Looking after our guests is the hospitality sector’s modus operandi…I am confident we can rise to this challenge.”

In the competition open to all respondents, congratulations to SH for being the winner of a delicious case of Alsace wine.