Socially distant dining and drinking made possible via new technology – keeping diners and staff safe and getting restaurants and pubs back in business.
A British company that has enabled millions of luxury hotel guests to order food and contact staff from their rooms has adapted their technology to help the ailing £60bn UK restaurant and pub industry re-open for business and attract customers back.
ServeSafely has been created to allow the public to feel confident about eating and drinking out post lock-down and has designed a socially distanced dining and drinking experience from start to finish which could help Britain’s much-loved pubs and restaurants reopen.
The innovative solution includes customers ordering and paying at their tables by mobile phone, and personal service at a safe distance provided by video and text. Managers can also stagger the arrival of customers to avoid queues and maintain social distancing rules. There is no person to person interaction, and no transmission risk from paper menus, payment terminals or cash.
Crave Founder, Gareth Hughes, created ServeSafely to offer a much-needed lifeline to Britain’s restaurant and pub industry, with the concept being enthusiastically received by owners and operators, who are keen for solutions to help them to protect their livelihoods and serve customers once again.
No app is needed, customers simply point their camera phone at a QR code for instant access to everything they need, including the ability to order in advance, should they wish to have their food prepared and piping hot or drinks poured and ready on arrival.
A video or messaging link connects staff to customers as they arrive and throughout their visit. Staff can direct families and friends to their tables, as well as providing the warm welcome and menu recommendations that make dining out such a central part of Brits’ social lives.
Once at the table, guests will be told when their meal or drinks are ready, which they then pick up themselves from a specific area. Tables are booked with staggered arrival times in pubs as well as restaurants, meaning that the flow of people can be safely controlled.
Gareth Hughes, Founder and CEO of Crave, has submitted his plans to the government’s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on how the industry needs to respond to the COVID-19 challenge, and is supported by the Hospitality Professionals Association (HOSPA). Mr Hughes maintains restaurants and bars should be permitted to open quickly following lock-down if they can implement effective measures to protect staff and customers satisfactorily, such as those with ServeSafely.
Jane Pendlebury, CEO of HOSPA, which represents more than 1,000 hospitality professionals, said: “This is something that the hospitality industry really needs as it is in dire straits. When restaurants, hotels and bars are able to reopen, the public will want something that will give them more reassurance about eating out and this is it. It seems easy to use and I am sure it will be a roaring success for the industry. A great idea.”
Mr Hughes, added: “We have looked at every part of the restaurant and pub experience and adapted our technology so customers can feel safe. As well as avoiding any personal interaction, we have massively reduced the risk of infection by doing away with paper menus, payment terminals and cash.
“Staggered table booking times also means restaurants and pubs can better control the flow of people in and out, leaving time slots to thoroughly clean tables in between each guest. The hospitality industry has been hit very hard by this crisis and I think everyone realises that we need to get creative and adapt to the changed environment where the safety of staff and customers is high on the agenda.
“We hope that our technology and suggestions can help businesses open sooner than expected and give us all the confidence to safely get out and enjoy the fantastic restaurants and pubs we are so lucky to have.”
Charlie Anderson, who owns two restaurants in Cambridge, Ta Bouche and La Raza, said: “I think ServeSafely is crucial, not just for the protection of customers, but also for employees as well. This industry usually involves a lot of face to face interaction, but we need to find the new normal in the hospitality industry and digital waiting and ordering is essential right now.
“Whenever we are allowed to re-open, social distancing is going to be key, so what these guys have created is essential and ticks the boxes for us to be able to open again.”
Anna Kocerhan and her business partner, Simon Wood, the winner of MasterChef 2015, has three restaurants, in Manchester, Cheltenham and Chester. She added: “The principles that ServeSafely is using gives consumers the confidence they need to go out to eat again and therefore support the hospitality industry – it is really credible and we fully support anything that does that.”