Consumer Dining Expectations Post COVID19

New Restaurant Normal Post COVID95 - Myself and a restaurant worker.

Consumer dining expectations post COVID19.

We recently saw a potential glimpse at what consumer dining expectations post COVID19New Restaurant Normal Post COVID95 - A restaurant worker using a nose-cover.  could look like. We had been socially distancing in Florida and began a road trip to Colorado. We hadn’t eaten in any restaurants for 7 weeks. Days before, Florida restaurants opened their doors for outdoor seating.

After looking at the health department inspections, we chose Barracks Fish House in Pensacola. We approached the open-air seating hostess stand with masks on. The two greeters wore masks. On the way to the outdoor table, our hostess suggested we use a wall mounted hand sanitizer. We were given one-time use paper menus. Our server and all staff wore the same style and color mask. As customers left, staff sprayed the table and chairs with a sanitizer. I was so impressed I complimented the manager and the Director of Operations.

Our second stop was Brickhouse Grill, another A graded restaurant, in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It was restaurant opening day in Hot Springs. A TV reporter and cameraman were interviewing the owner. I was New Restaurant Normal Post COVID95 - A restaurant worker cleaning the menus with a sanitizing solution after use.equally impressed with their attention to sanitation. A couple of important differences were noted.

1) The waitress made a point of telling us that all condiment items had been removed from the table. Less risk of customer contamination and less effort for the staff to need to clean.

2) Each menu was cleaned with a sanitizing solution after use.

Similarly, I complimented the owner. Appreciating my compliments, she offered that customers were supposed to wear masks until ready to drink or eat, but it was difficult to enforce. They had been supplied health department masks for customers.

Consumer dining expectations post COVID19 will be different.

  • Welcome signs should suggest that customers who are sick should stay home.New Restaurant Normal Post COVID95 - Myself and a restaurant worker.
  • All restaurant staff should be wearing masks.
  • If hand sanitizer is offered, use it.
  • You should see tables being sanitized. A wet cloth with only water is inadequate.
  • Menus should be sanitized after use. Single use menus may become the norm.
  • Occupied seating and tables will be at least six feet distanced.
  • Table condiments may be available on only on request.
  • Washed hands are not sterile. Anyone touching food should be wearing gloves … period.
  • Single use community pens or a table side credit card ipad will become the norm.
  • Entry or restroom doors will be sanitized frequently.Automatic or swing both ways will become the norm.
  • Automatic toilet flushers and sink handles will become the norm.

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Author: Dr. Harlan Stueven, MD

Harlan Stueven M.D. is a Board-Certified Emergency physician with sub-specialization in Environmental Toxicology and Board Certification in Medical Toxicology. Starting his career in the USAF, he served as a Flight Surgeon and Environmental Health Consultant Physician where one of his duties was monitoring food safety. In his nearly 40-year practice, he treated a range of medical, surgical and poisoning emergencies. He has been a Medical Director and/or Chairman of several hospital-based Emergency Medicine Departments, served as the President of Emergency and Environmental Medicine consulting group, a physician group Chief Financial Officer and sat on many national, state and local committees. Dr. Stueven founded Dining Grades and the Dining Safety Alliance to improve food safety by increasing awareness of food borne illness and the formation of partnerships within the food industry. He is a consultant to the Wisconsin Retail Food Establishment Grading Work Group; a Co-investigator in a CDC funded “Evaluation of Health Department Restaurant Inspection Programs” project. He has presented at several National, State and Regional conferences on restaurant grading and food safety. He is an accomplished leader, medical researcher, a champion of process improvement, author, and national and international speaker.

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