Although it’s a little too soon to say the restaurant industry (or any industry for that matter) has cleared the Coronavirus outbreak, we are seeing progress each and every day. Now, more states have entered into their next phase of the reopening process. Whether that means full-capacity opening or patio-only dining, there is certainly light appearing at the end of the tunnel. And while this won’t be your average summer, even the novel Coronavirus isn’t going to cancel the Fourth of July. So today, we’re going to look at what you can expect from this year’s Fourth of July patrons.
Generally, the Fourth brings a healthy summer boon to the food and bev industry at large. We’re used to breaking beer sales records and flipping burgers well into the afternoon. Although it typically brings about a more casual (and sometimes less spend-y) crowd, the Fourth of July usually provides a welcome overall spike in business. Here are a few things we expect to see this Fourth of July:
No real surprises here. If your establishment is used to seeing a massive Fourth of July turnout, we would caution against planning for that this year. Although restaurants are starting to open (for full capacity in some places), it’s going to be a slow road to recover from COVID-19. Even on a holiday as socially-driven as the Fourth of July, we expect a lot of the population to remain wary of packed public spaces.
Be sure to consider this when doing your menu planning and pre-Fourth ordering. Don’t invest too much time or money into Fourth of July preparation, as we are expecting a very modest turnout.
Now, with the above point made, we expect that those patrons who do go out for the Fourth will be more dedicated than most. It may have been months since they went out to eat. For some diners, the Fourth could be serving as their ‘first day back’. So, it’s fair to expect that those who do choose to go out this Fourth could be a little more ready to spend. Right now, people want to get out, and the Fourth just may be the perfect excuse.
We expect this Fourth of July may have a reserved atmosphere, yes. But, those few patrons who decide to make a day of it are sure to have a great time. So, make sure that you don’t put your Fourth of July specials or decorations on hold. It’s an important time to provide people with the usual ‘going out’ experience they’re looking for this Fourth.
Increased Need for Sanitation
With that said, there are going to be more eyes than ever on the sanitation practices of your restaurant. During holiday hours, we know these things can fall to the wayside. This Fourth, make sure your staff isn’t caught slacking on their sanitation protocols. We suggest splurging on complimentary hand-sanitizers and face masks for patrons as well. In this climate of post-Corona uncertainty, the extra mile can mean a lot to wary patrons.
Our job is hospitality, and that means providing patrons with whatever they need. This Fourth, they are sure to be looking for an increased focus on sanitary practices. Handing out facemasks and hand sanitizer may not seem in the spirit of the Fourth, but it’s a great way to make your patrons feel at ease. The more at ease they feel, the more fun they have. And as we all know, the more fun they have, the more they spend.
This Fourth, people won’t let things slide. There’s going to be a huge amount of scrutiny from wary patrons who may be eating out again for the first time. As soon as these diners enter your establishment, they are going to be on high alert. This can create some tension on an otherwise celebratory day, so we suggest doing everything you can to exceed expectations. When your establishment is under a microscope, it’s a great time to shine. It’s do or die time!
From service to sanitation, make a point of going above and beyond this Fourth of July. Many patrons will feel that they’re going out on a limb by visiting your restaurant, so it’s critical to show them that they made the right choice. We want our customers to walk away thoroughly impressed by your dedication to their dining experience.
More of the Usual
At the end of the day, it’s still the Fourth. It’s important to remember what people are looking for on the Fourth of July, whether that’s pre-COVID or post-COVID. Don’t try anything fancy on the Fourth -- especially right now. It’s a simple equation, and now’s not really the time to fuss with it: burgers, hot dogs, and beer. While it is important to weigh the climate of a post-COVID hospitality industry, don’t let that distract you from the essence of what you should be doing. The Fourth is a time to celebrate, drink too much beer, and eat a few hotdogs. Customers are going to want the “usual” more than ever.
While some red-white-and-blue promotional specials are definitely great, remember to stick to the basics. You may want to offer your full menu, but be sure that the standard Fourth fair is also available. After all, it’s still the Fourth of July.
Successfully crushing a post-COVID Fourth is a lot like successfully crushing any other post-COVID day. Double down on what makes the food and bev industry great. Think of the patrons first. Think about safety. Stick to the fundamentals of the dining experience, and make sure the patron walks away happy. While this may seem obvious, it’s easy to get so caught up in the minutia that we forget about the customer. This Fourth of July, it’s going to take a little extra work to give the customer what they’re looking for, but it’s also a great opportunity to create long-term loyalty. Happy Fourth!