How San Diego Restaurants Are Prepping For Dine-In Customers

Restaurants across San Diego are preparing to open for dine-in service as soon as they get the go-ahead from Gov. Gavin Newsom. But dining out in the coronavirus era will look very different with servers wearing masks, tables spread apart or empty and maybe even plexiglass between bar stools.

On Monday, Newsom said counties could soon get state approval to allow restaurants to reopen. Last week, the state published a list of guidelines for restaurants as they get ready to invite diners back.

At Raglan Public House in Ocean Beach on Monday, one of the owners, PJ Lamont, was furiously getting ready. It is one of five New Zealand-themed restaurants he co-owns and operates in San Diego.

"Tables will be six feet apart, bar seating we're probably not going to be able to do period," he said as he showed the new restaurant layout he's preparing. "That's one of the pending items right now."

At first, he planned to sanitize all menus and silverware between customers – but after the state guidelines were published last week, he realized that was a non-starter.

"So everything will be in a sealed container, the host will bring that as well as rolled silverware to the table, more than likely with either gloves or tongs," he said.

The restaurants have been open for takeout since March, when the stay-at-home orders were first implemented. And because social distancing only allows room for a few patrons to dine in, Lamont expects takeout to continue to be the majority of his business in the coming months.

"When we are going to be open for dine-in, it's going to be about 30% is what we're anticipating, so going to to-go business is really a giant shift for us," he said. "We've always done it in the past, but now it's going to be on the forefront. So we want to make it as much of a gift as possible as opposed to just food in a bag.”

They’re also making preparations for employees.

"For staff, we do face coverings, gloves and temp checks when they come in," he said. "Anything over 100 (degrees) and they go home."

Public health vs. privacy

But Lamont said he’s not ready at this point to require temperature checks for customers, or to collect their contact information so they can be reached if COVID-19 cases are traced back to the restaurant. Such measures have become the norm in other places around the world – including South Korea and Hong Kong.

Last week, Washington State’s governor announced that restaurants will have to keep logs of customer phone numbers and email addresses as part of a statewide contact tracing program.

RELATED: It’s Public Health Vs. Privacy As San Diego County Considers Contact Tracing App

As of now, that's not part of California's guidelines for restaurants to reopen. Lamont said he'd do it if the state requires it, though he'd rather not.

"It's one of those things, once you give up one more little piece of freedom, are they always going to be doing that?" he said. "I personally don't want to be the one holding all that information of other people."

Yet, a log of restaurant customers would be helpful to quickly stop transmission, said Eyal Oren, an epidemiologist at San Diego State who used to run the contact tracing program for King County in Washington State.

"We know that highly effective contact tracing and case isolation is paramount to controlling this kind of outbreak,” he said. “And the probability of effective control decreases as you have a longer delay in someone being symptomatic to their being isolated to people around them are not quickly found, traced," he said.

Still, he said, the privacy concerns would be difficult for Americans.

At Stone Brewing, plans are also underway for reopening. Gregg Frazer, the vice president of hospitality, said the company will comply with whatever state and local mandates are implemented. However, Stone has no plans to collect customers' contact information unless it’s a requirement.

"You do get into some privacy issues when you start keeping track of who's coming in the doors," he said. "So I don't think we'll go above and beyond, because we want to ensure we're not breaking any rules in the privacy piece."

Stone has developed detailed plans for its spacious restaurants in Liberty Station and Escondido, including spacing out tables and posting marks every six feet in walkways to ensure proper social distancing—with Stone branding, of course.

A sign on the path at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido shows where to stand to be six feet apart, May 5, 2020.

"In Escondido, even at 50% that's north of 600 people, and at Liberty Station that's north of 1,000 people, we have huge footprints," Frazer said. "So we can do 50% capacity and have a significant amount of room for social distancing."

They're also using reservations to pre-order some meals and are planning to use an app called GoTab, which allows customers to order without going to the bar or seeing a server.

Most restaurants don't benefit from Stone's spacious grounds, which means less room inside for seating customers. To help with this lack of space, some advocates are proposing shutting down streets to traffic to allow restaurants to seat more customers outdoors.

Regardless, PJ Lamont is preparing to do the best he can with the space inside his five restaurants. At Dunedin in North Park, he has a plan to keep a good atmosphere even with social distancing.

"Instead of removing tables and spacing them far apart, we're just going to fill up the other tables with giant stuffed animals," he said.

By Claire Trageser Tuesday, May 19, 2020

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Situated “in the heart of it all, yet tranquil enough to make you feel away from it all too,” The Limelight Hotel Snowmass offers 99 hotel rooms and 11 residences, as well as footsteps-to-gondola access in winter and summer — right in the middle of Snowmass Base Village.

The Situation

Especially over the last few years, the Limelight Hotels IT team had witnessed a significant shift to contactless technology in the hospitality industry. After evaluating friction points in the guest journey, aligning with modern technology platforms in their restaurant was determined to be an effective way to offer elevated contactless dining experiences to their guests while also evolving their technology platforms to continue to support long-term company goals. Limelight Hotel partnered with GoTab to provide an enhanced on-demand dining experience on par with the brand’s reputation for exceptional guest service.

The Solution

Reducing Staff Touch Points Without Sacrificing Guest Experience

Guests are now able to begin a tab from their room or the property’s restaurant by scanning a QR code, texting a link to friends or family members on the ski slope to add in their orders, then meeting up together at the patio or lodge to enjoy their meal and après ski festivities without interruption. By streamlining tasks like inputting orders and processing payments, this eliminates friction for hotel staff and allows them to focus on delivering renowned guest service for a memorable experience. Since partnering with GoTab, Limelight Snowmass has consistently seen higher check averages and sales.

“We found the Point of Sale platforms we were looking at offered the guest and staff limited opportunities to further reduce touch points or improve the traditional restaurant experience. The GoTab platform enabled the guest to take an active role over the flow of their experience while simultaneously reducing touch points and further streamlining restaurant operations.”Nick Giglio, Manager of Hotel IT Operations, The Little Nell Hotel Group

According to the Limelight Hotels team, some of the other platforms that were evaluated were either missing some of the pieces they were looking for, had weak customer support models, or had little willingness to develop integrations to existing hotel platforms already in place. To that end, GoTab integrated with cloud-based platform, Infor. Together, GoTab and Infor are providing dynamic solutions to support central, efficient service across hotel amenities and deliver exceptional guest experiences.

“Previously, guests would call down to the restaurant to begin an order from their room or while they were out enjoying the ski slopes. Using GoTab, guests can now place orders from anywhere on the resort, giving them the on-demand service they want without interrupting their day. GoTab empowers us to give control to the guest, reducing touch points and streamlining overall restaurant operations, making Limelight Hotel the resort of choice for Snowmass.”Nick Giglio, Manager of Hotel IT Operations, The Little Nell Hotel Group

Since introducing GoTab, The Limelight Hotel has seen a consistent level of upsells and items sold per check resulting in additional revenue capture. They have been able to maintain service levels in their restaurants during periods when there was reduced staffing available without significantly diminishing the guest experience.

The Benefits

Eliminate Phone Orders – Take Orders from the Slopes. Guests can start a tab from their room or on the mountain without interrupting the flow of their day.

Future-Proofed Technologies – Delivering elevated contactless ordering via integration with the Infor hotel management platform.

Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.

  • Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.
  • Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.
  • Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.
  • Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.

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