Restaurants Reopening


To understand how consumers are responding to the reopening of restaurants, specifically to better understand what messaging are restaurants are currently using to inform customers that they are open for dine-in, what type of messaging is being received well, how customers respond to "we're open" restaurants, and what the state of COVID-19 is when it comes to restaurant behavior. This information will be used to develop messaging for a brand of restaurants that are reopening for dine-in.

Early Findings

Consumer Opinions Surrounding Restaurants Reopening

  • Restaurateur Phillip Sitter held a mass poll among restaurant customers to determine what potential guests expect from restaurants moving forward.
  • The survey showed that safety is an important concern for customers. Customers expect restaurants to invest in both gloves and masks (61.9%), while 24% expected them to only invest in masks and 14.1% only in gloves. Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used for at least 30 days according to 39.1%, 20.8% believe they should be used for 60 days, 12.7% believe they should be used for 90 days, 12.1% believe they should be used for the rest of the year and 15.3% believe they should be used indefinitely.
  • Prior to COVID-19, most customers (37.9%) dined 1-2 times per week, 36% dined 2–4 times per week, 18.8% dined 2–4 times per month, and 7.3% dined 1–2 times per month. Most customers (50.9%) will continue to dine the same as before.
  • Customers believe the most effective way restaurants can market to them is through loyalty/rewards programs (35%), followed by text message marketing (27.1%), social media (23.2%) and emails (14.1%).
  • The emotional benefits of going to a restaurant are that it allows the customer to relax (41%), it makes them joyful (38%), there is a sense of satisfaction (35%) and for indulgence/reward (34%)
  • Another survey also showed that eating at restaurants reminds the customer of better times (71%), it would help them feel normal again (70%), and dining in would feel more special when restaurants reopen (70%), among other sentiments.

Restaurant Chains Reopening

  • Starbucks is planning to reopen 90% of its restaurants in the US by June 1. Chili's has reopened in Georgia, Waffle House has reopened in Georgia and Tennessee, Outback Steakhouse and Dickey's Barbecue have reopened in Georgia and Texas. These are some chain restaurants.
  • This is an example of Starbucks announcing that it will reopen in the US and Canada. It received 105 likes, 35 retweets, and 8 comments. Starbucks has 113,600 followers.

Summary of Findings

  • During the initial hour of research, we focused on determining what customers think of restaurants reopening.
  • We found that, though customers are concerned about their safety, they are not averse to dining in again because it is a source of relaxation and joy and reminds them of better times.
  • Marketing would be most effective through loyalty/rewards programs.

Proposed next steps:

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