Only 5 months ago, restaurants were full with reservations and guests were lining up outside of their favorite bars. In January 2020, restaurants saw the best sales growth in four years amid mild winter weather.
Going out on Friday and Saturday nights was a no questions asked activity. Whether it was to dine out with friends and family or to grab drinks with old friends and socialize with new ones. Every weekend the hospitality industry experienced a crazy rush for a few hours. The crowds were large, drinks were flowing, and sales were increasing.
Fast forward to March 2020, and restaurants and bars across the U.S. shutdown. This forced and continues to push the hospitality industry to make some serious adjustments to survive.
A few months have passed since the shutdown began and states are starting to reopen again. Now restaurants and bars are figuring out how to get diners back through their doors and how to do so safely.
Before the pandemic, customers waited in lines to get into crowded bars. But with new regulations in place requiring a 6 feet distance between patrons, crowded bars are no longer seen as somewhere fun to go. Rather, they are a big safety concern.
Forward-thinking restaurateurs will need to be innovative and come up with something new. Serving their customers in a safe and effective manner will be the key to making a profit.
With the shutdown of restaurants across the U.S., the hospitality industry is still reeling from the effects.
There has been a large shift to takeout and delivery as a result. Bars and restaurants are getting creative with ways to keep sales flowing. States are starting to reopen, but new practices must be put in place to maintain the safety of guests and staff:
Right now, your bar or restaurant’s regulars are sitting at home missing the drinks your bartender pours them each week. They miss the local craft beer. The seasonal cocktails. They want to support your business, but aren’t sure how.
So, what can your establishment do? Offer alcohol delivery right to the customer’s door! But first, make sure to check out what the laws and regulations are in your state before putting this into action.
Not only is this a safer option because people are drinking at home (and not around others), but it is cheaper for them. And right now that’s imperative. Many people are financially restricted due to pay cuts and layoffs, so this is a great option for your establishment to consider.
Let your customers know that this option is available and how they can order. Post updates on social media. Update your email newsletter. Have an option for online ordering on your website.
Your customers will hear that you’re starting to deliver alcohol right to their door - and they’ll want to support you during these times.
Takeout, carryout, and delivery is the name of the game these days. It’s obvious that people will order food for takeout, but think about ways you can get innovative with your drink service. Start selling growlers and crowlers of beer for customers to pick up. This will generate buzz on social media and increase traffic to your establishment.
From Texas to Washington, Maine to Florida, restaurants and bars across the U.S. are realizing that to have more patrons, they'll need to extend their capacity by adding an outdoor area. People love to eat or drink outside with their friends, especially during the summer.
If you have a large area outside of your bar or restaurant, consider creating a beer garden. Beer gardens are making a comeback as restrictions start to ease. With a large outdoor space and several beer taps, you’ll attract lots of customers (regular and new!)
If you don’t have the luxury of a large outdoor seating area, try creating a pick-window outside. Customers will still get to enjoy your drinks and food outside.
You can even implement some fun deals. If you buy one growler, get your second one half off. Have some fun with it! Customers will see the effort you’re making and they’ll be more inclined to support your business.
Once your establishment has reopened, it’s important that you’re keeping everyone as safe as possible. There are several minor changes you can make to increase the level of safety at your bar or restaurant. Below are some suggestions.
According to studies conducted, menus can have as many as 185,000 germs per square centimeter.
With cleanliness and safety at the forefront of everyone’s mind, consider new ways to show your customers what your menu items are. One way to do this is to display your menu on TVs throughout your establishment making it more accessible (and safer). Untappd is a great system to use. Upload your beer menu and customers can access it from their smartphones. Not only will this be a safer and more visually appealing option for customers, Untappd will help you boost your beverage sales and marketing efforts.
Another great option to consider is online ordering right from the table. Customers can use their smartphones to order, without interacting with a server. This will reduce points of contact and make the dining experience safer. A great and easy to use online ordering system is Bbot.
Eliminating the use of cash will reduce the spread of germs. Customers are accustomed to using credit or debit cards when dining out. So, this is not only a safer option for customers, but also for the operators - as the risk is reduced without the use of cash.
Using credit cards is also more efficient. Bartenders can open a tab for customers rather than exchanging cash after each drink. Then, once the customers have ordered a few drinks they can close out their tab.
Restaurants and bars across the U.S. are starting to reopen at reduced capacity. With mandates from governors nationwide, restaurants must lower their capacity anywhere from 25 to 50%.
When reopening your establishment, it’s important to consider how to make these changes. Reduce the amount of seating at the bar area and reduce the number of servers (as this will lower the spread of germs). When limiting seating at the bar, make sure to cover the chairs that are not in use. This will prevent customers from getting too close to one another.
One way to take advantage of space is to replace a bulky bar with a smaller, but more efficient solution - a self-pour beverage wall. More on that below.
Besides providing more usable space, self-pour beverage walls also eliminate touchpoints, increase service efficiency, reduce waste, and lower operational costs.
With the freedom to pour their own drinks, at any time, there will be no crowding at the wall. This means you’ll rotate through more customers and increase your sales. Customers also love the uniqueness that self-pour beverage walls provide. It’s a drinking experience like no other.
With all that is happening in the world due to Covid-19, the question becomes: how is self-pour a safer and more efficient way to serve customers? After all, customer safety is number one. We’re here to help you answer that question.
Now, let’s expand on each one.
Self-pour technology reduces the number of interactions between guests and staff members. While at a traditional bar, guests have to speak with the bartender to order their drinks. Self-pour beverage walls give guests the ability to pour their own drinks. This gives them complete freedom over their drinking experience. With this freedom also comes a safer experience as they do not have to come in contact with a bartender to order.
Now that social distancing protocols are in place around the country, it's important to be as efficient as possible. This will make a big difference in your sales. Self-pour beverage walls have many taps (between 30-50 on average). With this many taps, customers are able to pour drinks at the same time, while maintaining the proper amount of distance between one another.
When you think about ordering drinks at a traditional bar, you think about waiting in a long line. More often than not, there's also a very crowded bar area. This is completely eliminated with self-pour beverage walls. With plenty of taps on the wall, customers can go up to the wall whenever they please (or feel the safest), and there is no wait. No wait means no crowds will form.
With a simple layout, self-pour stands out as a great solution. Easy to install into any wall, beverage walls save an incredible amount of space - no more bulky bars. This extra space provides room for customers to spread out and maintain social distancing protocols.
Since self-pour walls integrate into walls, the entire setup is on display for customers to see. This makes your cleaning efforts visible to your guests. They can see you wiping down the tap handles and screens. Whereas at a traditional bar, it's much harder to show the cleaning practices in place due to their bulky nature. Customers will feel at ease knowing that you are taking the necessary precautions to keep them as safe as possible.
Many bar and restaurant owners worry about the flow of customers in and out of their establishment with a lower capacity. But, self-pour eliminates that worry! Since there is no need for customers to wait for a bartender to make their drink, they will be able to rotate through much faster. You will serve more customers and they will be happier customers.
As one of the most innovative services on the market, self-pour tech provides some serious advantages. With the versatility to be installed in a variety of locations, self-pour is truly unique.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits self-pour provides to a customer:
Customers are able to go up to the beverage wall whenever suits them, sample as many beverages as they want, and never wait in line again. Since guests pour their own drinks, staff members can focus their efforts elsewhere. This creates a better environment for everyone dining or drinking at the establishment.
With self-pour, customers no longer have to wait in the dreaded “bar line.” Customers become their own server or bartender. They can approach the wall at any time and will never have to wait.
And let’s not forget about the versatility self-pour provides. You have the option to pour beer, wine, kombucha, etc. - anything that’s a liquid can flow through self-pour taps. Talk about options! Having a wide variety of options will bring more customers to your door because they’ll have more beverages to sample and drink.
We all love sampling - whether it be each flavor of frozen yogurt at the local ice cream shop or different kinds of beer. Flights are a great way to allow customers to sample a variety of beers, but many breweries have to limit the sizes of the samples they give out. With self-pour that is no longer an issue, one can sample half of a pint or half of the sample size glass, any size they want.
There are also much larger installations such as this restaurant in Colorado Springs, Beasts and Brews. This is their solution for the current Post-Pandemic situation.
Regardless of what changes you choose to put in place, remember to update your customers. They want to stay in the loop and know that you’re taking the proper measures to keep everyone safe during these times.
If you're looking for self-pour systems or self-pour technology, we recommend our partners at Pour My Beer. They are the leaders in the self-pour revolution and have incredible resources on how to develop your restaurant's draft beer strategy in a post-pandemic world (49 tips to help).