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How to Keep Restaurant Patrons Engaged as You Reopen


Before the current COVID-19 pandemic, 20% of U.S. consumers reported eating out at least once a week. In 2019, over one million U.S. restaurants employed approximately 15.3 million workers.

The national lockdown severely impacted the restaurant industry and has threatened the survival of even the biggest and most popular chains. For those that have made it through, the process of reopening safely brings even more challenges.

Of course, the virus that causes COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, and any restaurant or bar that wants to reopen will need to do so responsibly. But while it may seem like distancing and isolating measures hamper the very level of social engagement that makes dining out a pleasurable activity for many people, there are ways to engage your clientele while still adhering to safety recommendations and making dining out a fun, enjoyable experience.

Reopening Phases for Restaurants and Bars

As the country and the world begin the process of resuming business as usual, government and healthcare officials are stressing the importance of proceeding slowly, step by step, instead of rushing to resume full-service dining as it existed before the lockdown began. It’s important to remember the risk of infection still exists, and it’s incumbent on every business to moderate that risk for itself, its employees, and its clientele.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control have released new, more detailed guidelines for the phased reopening of dining establishments and bars. These guidelines establish existing levels of risk for the resumption of various levels of food and drink service. For example, curbside pickup and delivery still remain relatively low risk, while outdoor dining carries an additional level of risk but less so than indoor seating options.

This doesn’t mean, however, that dining out can’t still be fun and enjoyable for your customers and your staff. One way to increase engagement during the current pandemic is with promotional products that can help your restaurant or bar create the atmosphere your patrons miss, even if dining out today is a little different than it used to be.

Fun Floor Decals
Social Distance Floor Decals

Help encourage safe distancing (and help your employees enforce those guidelines) with fun floor decals that guide patrons to stay six feet apart while waiting in lines for service. Printed directions should be clear and succinct but can also include a little humor or human interest to help entertain your customers in a way that’s friendly and relatable while they wait.

For dining establishments that anticipate longer lines and directional control issues, try road-sign-shaped decals such as this “one way” diamond with a directional arrow or this rectangular one-way arrow decal to help your customers find their way safely through the ordering and pickup process.

Outdoor Signs and Flags

Promote your restaurant or bar with attractive, festive outdoor flags and signs. For example, these large feather flags can be customized with a full-color imprint to proudly display your own branding and are perfect for both indoor and outdoor use.

Or use this classic standing A-frame sign to announce your specials, unique events, or themes along with your branding. With a molded handle for easier handling and water ballast to keep it secure outside, this frame holds two signs with full-color digital graphics, printed with UV-resistant inks.

Games and Other Printed Materials
Disposable coasters with field goal cut out makes for great entertainment

To keep your customers engaged while dining outside with more distance, add a mix of promotional products that help announce your brand and entertain your diners at the same time. For instance, use these disposable printed coasters to promote your brand, specials, or events. Add simple tabletop games, like a pocket sudoku game or this mini-cornhole game (sanitized, of course) so your customers will have something to do while waiting for orders or delivery of their meals. The addition of germ-free tools for diners can help add an extra level of safety, too.

And don’t forget your employees. Give them germ-free disposable branded pens for order taking, then they can tell their customers “keep the pen!” when they pay the bill. Finally, consider having a supply of hand sanitizer in small bottles on hand to give out to customers. It’s a great way to show you care about them and their well-being as they return to patronize your business.

Looking for even more ideas about keeping customers safe and engaged as businesses reopen? Get in touch with one of Account Executives today.