Restaurants across the country are catching glimpses of possible reopening guidelines. Dining room reopenings in other countries that are ahead on the COVID-19 curve compared to the US are already providing us lessons that we can learn. Multiple countries have mandated increased hygiene and social distancing measures. In addition, restaurant operators should also be thinking about what their guests specifically want to see. Consumer confidence has fallen to an all-time low, and restaurants will need to make efforts to regain the trust of guests again. Let’s take an in-depth look at Datassential’s latest survey to see what US diners are really thinking right now.

The Survey

Datassential just released highlights from their newest research, covering 1,000 US consumers from April 17 to April 20. While some states will be allowing restaurants to reopen their dining rooms within the next week, Datassential’s research suggests that most Americans are hesitant about dining out normally again like before the pandemic.

Restaurant Traffic Recovery Will Be Slow

An enormous amount of Americans have been financially impacted by the crisis, potentially affecting their ability to spend more at restaurants. Yet Datassential’s survey shows that health concerns largely overshadow financial concerns. 74% of those surveyed cite that safety and health were the biggest factors in preventing them from dining in at a restaurant, while only 14% cited finances. This shows that operators will need to make a significant effort in increasing hygiene and safety measures in order to boost traffic recovery.

Social Distancing Will Be Needed

86% of diners would consider continuing to maintain distance from other diners, while 83% would avoid crowded waiting areas. Operators will need to be strategic about spacing tables apart, while also taking care to limit interactions between guests and servers. Pay-at-table technology or self-service kiosks can help cater to guests who wish to completely place and pay for orders on their own, without interacting with servers.

High Interest in a Contactless Experience

According to the April report by Datassential, 87% of guests like the idea of contactless payment, while 44% of guests would require it in restaurants. There is a sharp interest in contactless ordering as well. Over ⅔ of guests would require seeing restaurants disinfect or dispose menus each time. Nearly ⅔ of guests would accept no physical menus as a new rule in restaurants. Operators can consider adopting order-at-table devices that are easier to disinfect than traditional print-out menus, or potentially mobile-ordering.Datassential’s latest report is an insightful look at how confident American consumers feel about dining out again after more than a month of social distancing at home. Guests not only prefer having less interactions with other diners and seeing more cleaning inside restaurants. They are demanding specific protocols that minimize human contact in their entire dining experience. Diners will love the chance to get together with their loved ones in restaurants again, but it’s important that your restaurant differentiates itself in a timely manner to regain their trust in dining out again. To learn more about how our contactless technology can help minimize human contact in your dining rooms, please reach out to us at