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Restaurants in the new normal: Dining area divers, contactless reservations and more

The Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) on Thursday approved partial dine-in services of restaurants in GCQ areas starting June 15.

According to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, restaurants can resume dine-in operations at 30% capacity — on top of other health protocols that restaurants need to observe including frequent disinfection, wearing of face masks and social distancing.

In an interview with Unang Balita Monday, DTI Undersecretary Boy Vizmonte said authorities will conduct random inspections among restaurants to ensure safety protocols are in place and are practiced. "Hindi naman para manghuli, pero gusto i-tama kasi ang hangad ngayong panahon na ito ay hindi lamang pag-iingat kundi makapagbukas ulit ng hanap-buhay."

He clarified that when a family from one household comes in together to dine at a restaurant, they will still have to observe social distancing. "Sa grupo, wag ipunin yung table para magkasama-sama. Hayaan natin yung set-up na hiwa-hiwalay," Vizmonte clarified. 

As such, we asked a few restauranteurs how they intend to resume their operations.

All of them promised strict implementation of social distancing, with staff wearing clean uniforms and PPEs at all times. The restaurants are strict with a no mask no entry policy, asking guests to submit to thermo-scans upon entry and complete a health declaration form. 

Takeout and delivery will continue to play a big role in restaurants' businesses

"Certainly, we put a lot of emphasis on delivery and take out as we do now, and even pre-COVID," said Paul Manuud, president and COO of The Bistro Group (TGIFridays, Dennys, Italiannis).

Among their steps include creating special menus for the category, having bold promotions, and contactless payments, he adds.

Pino Concepts agree. "Our restaurants have focused on deliveries via the popular couriers, as they deliver anywhere in the city," said PJ Lanot, a co-owner of Pino Group of Concepts (Pino Restaurant, Pipino, and Breakfast and Pies). He adds that their operations include handling personal pickups for advanced orders as well as takeaway for walk-in orders.

The Moment Group (Manam, 8cuts, Din Tai Fung, Ooma, Mo Cookies, Mess Hall) meanwhile is "focusing on meeting diners where they are and letting them know they can safely welcome Moment into their homes," said Abba Napa, co-founder of The Moment Group.

Apart from launching Moment Food, a website that can take orders for deliveries, Moment has also invested in an in-house delivery fleet that promises same-day delivery — apart from being present on delivery applications like GrabFood, food panda, and LalaFood.

Contactless and disposables

In its video, Vikings showed what their sought-after buffets will be like in the new normal and instead of lining up to get food, customers will have to order using disposable forms. But before being able to enter their establishments, customers will have to fill out a health declaration form on via mobile.

The Moment Group is looking into a "safe, seamless, contactless dine-in experience." The group is exploring contactless reservations via a mobile platform, contactless ordering, seating, payment, and even going for e-receipts.

Bistro meanwhile is looking at having disposable menus and contactless payments, as well.

Lanot says the Pino Group is encouraging guests to reserve and order ahead via the landline, messenger apps or even through social media to help them "manage seating, foot traffic, stocks and manpower" as well as to get into digital payments via a myriad of ways (GCash, QR Codes or bank transfers).

Dining dividers, timed services, PPES, and more

"Moment's shops are currently being outfitted with additional tools like dining area dividers and providing personal protective equipment and safety and sanitation kits for our team members," Napa said.

For Vikings, glass shields will be installed not at the dining area but at buffet stations.

On top of providing guests "an option to use 100% disposable yet biodegradable plates, cups and utensils," Pino will also be implementing scheduled services. "We'll have brunch from 10am-1130am, lunch from 12pm-230pm, merienda from 3pm-530pm and dinner from 6-830pm."

Staff safety is guest safety 

"Everything begins with caring for our team members, delivery partners, and guests. Their safety and needs are what will guide the way we serve everybody at this time," Napa said. Apart from heightened safety measures — PPEs, social distancing, frequent handwashing, and regular sanitation and disinfection — Moment restaurants now have an assigned food safety server and runner, "who is the only one allowed to perform food-related tasks and does not perform tasks other than those."

The Pino group will be requiring their staff to have different sets of clothes for when they enter and exit the restaurants. "We have also housed some of our employees so we can control their environment, and we are in constant communication with the officials for our employees who do a five-minute walk from their common barangay to our location," Lanot added.

Pino will have a "new ordering, payment and order pickup station, so our staff can practice social distancing with the customer, and vice-versa. No more waiter service," continued Lanot.

No big parties for now

Bistro restaurants will not take in large groups. "We will strictly observe protocols," Manuud said. "No large groups, six meters apart per person, frequent sanitation of tables and chairs. The cleanliness and safety of our customers and team members will be expected at all times."

Pino meanwhile "can only handle a maximum of 15 pax at a time." It will abide by DTI's recommendations, such as allowing two people to be seated in a four-seat table, no face-to-face seating regardless of relationship, like what an Iloilo restaurant is already doing, and more. — LA, GMA News

Tags: newnormal