This week has seen the first green shoots of some kind of positive change on the high street since lockdown was imposed in March. At Engaging Interiors we have had enquiries about new projects and have been hearing about restaurateurs and bar owners who are maximising the opportunities as things open up. The recent government announcement that bars and pubs can reopen from the 4th July has given hope to businesses within the hospitality industry. The focus now is on business owners to ensure their establishments are safe, effective and profitable.
So, what can you do to take advantage of the current situation and get your bar or restaurant working successfully over the next few weeks?
1.Explore new sites
With some businesses folding or moving to online only, new sites and premises are becoming available. Many of these will be ready to go, without a need for a major overhaul, so get out there in your local area or new target area and see what is happening. Some recently closed venues will simply need a lick of paint and some freshening up, making this a great time to open a second or subsequent site and start building your small chain.
Under the guidance of an experienced interior designer you can turn around a new site quickly and efficiently. At a time when your competition may be retreating, now might be the ideal opportunity to expand your offering and find new premises.
2.Study government licensing permissions
We have heard that the government have relaxed many of the usual licensing and planning restrictions, in an effort to kick-start the hospitality industry. As these articles outline, in some areas restrictions on outdoor seating are being waived in order to help cafes and bars reopen (as long as public safety is not affected). Do some research and see what has been allowed locally that may not previously have been agreed, or may have needed lengthy change of use applications. Make a proposal while the regulations are looser.
3.See what others are doing
Visit similar establishments and see what they have done to facilitate reopening. What interior layout changes have they made? What tech innovations are they embracing? How are they using their outside space? What is working well, and what should you avoid?
4.Evaluate your own site
Make a detailed evaluation of your current site. What are its strengths, and weaknesses? What scope do the shell and infrastructure offer for new ways of hosting diners or serving customers? For example, could you create a private dining space for people within the same household, recreating the feel of exclusive, boutique dining.
5.Think like your customer
Be aware that your customers will behave differently. Some will be confident with your safety measures and happy to be able to eat out or meet friends at a distance. Others will be more cautious and prefer to visit at the quieter times of the week. Put yourself into the shoes of each type, and ensure you can meet their needs. This may mean being flexible about how you do things according to the demands of different days or times. It may involve allowing space for each type of customer within the same venue. Now is absolutely the time to think like and understand your customer.
With some forethought, research and supple thinking you can ensure that when your doors open you can look after your staff and customers as well as doing a good trade. If you have the resources, now is the time to think about the opportunities this strange time is throwing up.