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By Graham Campbell, COO of Givex, originally published in Restaurant Technology News
This is going to be a difficult winter. With no end to the COVID-19 crisis in sight and hopes for a substantial relief package dwindling, restaurant owners are looking for solutions that will allow them to continue safely serving customers without, in most cases, the luxury of outdoor seating. Over the past seven months, plenty of ink has been spilled – and screen time aired – about what restaurant owners and municipalities are doing to ensure customers feel safe dining out, but less attention has been paid to an equally critical element: the safety of restaurant employees.

Fortunately, this summer has seen the introduction of a number of technological innovations that help protect employees, and many of those resources will become even more crucial throughout the winter. Some restaurants, like Toronto’s Box’d, have even created fully automated experiences that eliminate all interactions between staff and customers. But restaurants don’t have to go that far to ensure the safety of both staff and customers. Here are just a few of the ways restaurants should be upgrading their operations to survive the winter.

Limiting Contact

Accommodating effective social distancing in back-of-house operations is no easy feat, but upgrading your ordering system can go a long way toward limiting contact between employees. If you’re still using paper chits to track orders, stop. Anything that passes hands or requires employees to interface directly is going to put them at risk. Now is the time to invest in cloud-based POS technology and kitchen display systems that will allow front-of-house staff to send orders to the kitchen and multiple back-of-house staff members to access those orders without any physical contact.

Communicating Digitally

In the past, back-of-house staff would shout over the clamor of the kitchen to communicate about the timing of specific items in a particular order. Now, kitchen display systems are designed to time out orders strategically to the various stations in the kitchen, limiting vocal communications between staff, making it easier to keep masks on and reducing the risk of transmission via speech.

Reducing Customer Table Time

The longer a customer has to wait for their order, the more time they are spending near your staff. By implementing technology that helps back-of-house workers efficiently prioritize orders and align cook times, you can get customers out the door faster and maintain more physical distance within the restaurant. Restaurants can also utilize technology that will provide more accurate pick-up times for takeout orders, further reducing the time customers spend waiting for their orders inside the restaurant.

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Restaurant Technology News, published by Starfleet Media, is the hospitality industry’s premier source of information and insights related to technology innovation at the world’s leading quick service, fast casual and full service restaurants.

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