During the pandemic, restaurants have been forced to close or limit their indoor dining areas to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Most restaurants have taken advantage of outdoor dining or turned to other pickup and delivery service methods to regenerate revenue. Other restaurants have turned to hotels to attract new customers and strengthen their existing clientele. Long before the pandemic, hoteliers were looking for ways to refresh their properties’ food and beverage offerings, and the pandemic presented restaurants with the perfect opportunity to enter the hospitality sphere.
Struggling to attract travelers at the height of the pandemic, hotels rented out their empty kitchens and banquet spaces to restaurateurs looking for discounted space. In 2020 and most of 2021, ghost kitchens have become a popular substitute for traditional hotel cooking. Analysts now estimate that less than five percent of hotels in the United States operate shadow kitchens from their properties, but that number is expected to rise.
Improving the dining experience should be the priority for restaurateurs already operating in hotels.
As society emerges from the pandemic, ghost kitchens will co-exist with a dining establishment, operating in a bustling lobby and hotel. Experts advise hoteliers to become ghost kitchen operators to deliver a more relevant and branded room service offering to guests. The additional space required in the kitchen can be as little as 150 square feet and use minimal or additional equipment such as a TurboChef or convection oven. With the additional revenue, the upgrades will pay for themselves in a very short time.
Improving the dining experience should be the priority for restaurateurs already operating in hotels. This is especially true for the hotel bar. Contrary to popular belief, the main driver of any hotel is not the food offering, but the beverage offering. Creating a popular bar that attracts locals and visitors gives restaurants a window of opportunity to showcase their menu and gain loyal customers. Besides being one of the best ways to attract new customers, the elevation of bar space also benefits restaurants. Margins are higher on beverages than on food due to less labor, higher markup and the social aspect.
Along with the menu, restaurant layout is one of the most important aspects of hospitality design that can make or break your clientele. While hotel lobbies have evolved over the past few years, many are still not conducive to operating a restaurant. Redesigning a hall should go beyond moving furniture; changing the floor plan can also mean changing it. Spatial technology is a great tool for predicting what a space will look like if a wall has been removed or the hall has been extended to another area.
Finally, flexibility is a key design element that all restaurateurs must consider. The dining room should accommodate a variety of guests throughout the day. The space should be suitable for people working remotely or students working headlong during working hours. At the end of the day and as happy hour approaches, moveable, see-through walls and furniture can be used, allowing the space to transform into happy hour zones and seating. Creating a space that can be used for different crowds is another way to engage different types of people.