Tips to Help Dubai Restaurants Adapt to the Post-COVID-19 Economy

Jul 5, 2020

It’s no secret that the restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit by the global COVID-19 pandemic. But restaurateurs are resilient, adaptable, and creative. Takeaways and drive-by custom were opened up some time ago, and now, many restaurants in Dubai have opened their doors for seated dining as well.

That is a great cause for celebration; customers and restaurateurs alike are more than ready to create and enjoy wonderful and memorable dining experiences. However, strict new rules and conditions mean everyone needs to look at ways to thrive in the ‘new normal’ and create new opportunities. Customers need to feel like they are safe yet can still enjoy the bonhomie and beauty of some downtime in a lovely restaurant.

Risk Assessment

To reassume business, restaurants need to look at the type of business they run, and how to mitigate risk.

The lowest risk is a restaurant that focuses solely on take out, with drive-through or curbside collection or delivery. Some restaurants will adopt a hybrid model with drive-through, delivery, take-out, and curbside pick-up emphasised. The highest risk is for on-site dining with both indoor and outdoor seating. So, it makes sense for businesses that operate at the highest risk to make changes to move to a different model that incorporates take out and collection options as well as electronic and digital operations and marketing to increase business. That is on top of strict hygiene and distancing rules being applied in the business.

While you might be doing everything you can to make a success with the current rules and regulations, it is also wise to look at the risk of future lockdowns or changes in regulations that might take us back to stricter rules.

Dubai Municipality Guidelines

The Dubai Municipality has released guidelines, and these are changing all the time. Read a comprehensive document on ‘Provisional Guidelines for Food Establishments in Dubai’. To stay on top of news and what other establishments are doing, you can follow:

No matter your model, you can create magical dining experiences by:

  • Making sure everyone is safe. Follow the distancing rules for tables, make sanitiser available for all customers and staff. Kitchen and packaging staff must wear a clean mask and gloves, and packages should not be opened once packed and sealed. Create convenient drive-through/ parking systems for collections if possible. Choose electronic menus and communication, and cashless payment methods for extra safety. Keep your customers aware of the safety precautions you have taken, using signs or your online social media presence, so they know they are in safe hands.
  • Ambience, aesthetics, and atmosphere. Just like in the ‘old days’, a restaurant or food supplier creates an experience through excellent service, delicious food and attention to detail. So, while you will probably have had to change your restaurant layout, make sure it still looks as aesthetically pleasing and as welcoming as always. Your staff’s smiles might be covered by masks, but it will be seen in their eyes. Now, more than ever, service needs to be impeccable. While the surfaces all need to be sterile, the experiences don’t have to be!
  • Consider creating or increasing a loyalty programme. Repeat custom is gold and worth pouring energy into. How can you reward and delight customers? Consider discounts on future visits, birthday loyalty programmes, or simply letting people know via WhatsApp that you have a new special.
  • Can you create new options to your menu? Some restaurants have created ‘pantry boxes’ or kits. This involves taking a popular or signature dish from your menu and supplying everything to make that dish at home, including seasonings. It is an opportunity to get creative with new menu items. Creating kits that recreate a favourite restaurant experience at home is just another avenue to keep custom.
  • Create a Digital Menu and Digital Marketing Solutions. Whether your restaurant is focusing on takeaways, a hybrid collection and seated model, or exclusively dine-in, an electronic menu has many advantages. Firstly, it is on your customers’ own device – smartphone or tablet. There is no need to sanitise physical menus. There is also no requirement for an app, just a quick scan of a QR code, and your customers have a custom branded menu in their hands. You also have a way of communicating with and understanding your customers.
  • Keeping costs as low as possible. We all need to be profitable. The pandemic has created many job losses and economic shortages, so restaurant dining and takeaways are an expendable luxury for many. If you get great cost savings from your suppliers, pass these on to keep your offering as accessible to your customer base as you can. You will be rewarded with loyal custom.

No matter the circumstances, there is always opportunity! We are all in this together, and strong emotional ties and loyalty are created through adversity.

Let us see if we can help your business to sustainable success. We create intelligent digital menus designed to improve service, cut costs and increase revenue. A free demo will let you see whether this will work for you. See