As restaurants saw sales plummet during the height of the pandemic, Americans proved how much they looked forward to dining out again once vaccination rates rose and positive COVID cases began to drop. . In July 2021, OpenTable reported that reservations were back to normal after dropping by two-thirds during the pandemic.
And things are only getting better for the industry. According to recent data from Morning Consult, 75% of American adults said they were comfortable eating out. If you own a casual dining establishment, even better: the global fast casual restaurant market is expected to grow by $186.27 billion between 2022 and 2026.
Looking for ideas to help your casual dining establishment thrive? Here are five design trends you should consider using in your home to boost sales.
Comfort and color are crucial
Although people are ready to dine out again, they have also become accustomed to eating from the comfort of their homes during the pandemic. With that in mind, you’ll want to make your restaurant as warm and inviting as possible. Furniture that allows diners to relax while enjoying their meal is essential, as well as choosing warmer color palettes for your decor.
Outdoors is always popular
According to Morning Consult, 82% of Americans feel comfortable eating out. As a result, many establishments have made their outdoor spaces usable throughout all four seasons through the use of tents, heaters and fans. Of course, it’s important to advertise that you offer year-round outdoor dining space with signage. Consider budget signage options like easy-care acrylic sign holders or DIY signs like acrylic sheets with removable chalk markers – so changeable for specials.
Takeout and delivery have also seen a boost during the pandemic, and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down. A JD Power survey found that 71% of consumers said they would continue to order delivery as much or more than they had during the pandemic.
Many restaurants facilitate the option with walk-in windows, allowing customers and delivery drivers to pick up food without ever having to enter the venue. And adding it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Just use an existing window or sliding windows to make it work for you. You can also create a pop-up pickup station just inside or outside the facility.
space it out
People will also feel more comfortable eating in your establishment if you space out the tables, so diners don’t feel crowded next to each other while they eat. If you’re short on space, consider plastic dividers – customers are used to them – between tables. Make the use of barriers less visible with a custom logo or your restaurant’s name printed on them. Or consider upgrading to higher seatbacks to create more defined space between tables.
Make room for technology
Diners not only welcome technology into their dining experience, but also expect it. It makes things easier for you and for them. QR codes on tables linked to your menu, along with the contactless payment platform, can help limit interaction with servers while reducing table turnaround times. Consider custom, clean acrylic blocks with your food and drink menu QR code printed on them or use acrylic sign holders and insert paper signage printed with the QR code. Either way, changing the menu is effortless and cleanup is a snap. Implementing any or all of these tips will ensure that your establishment is a priority for customers when choosing their dining destination. These ideas can provide the comfort your customers need and keep them coming back. Who doesn’t want loyal, satisfied customers.