As food businesses have started reopening, buffets still need to see the light of the day. Food service businesses that run entirely on buffets and those that have as a part of their service are maybe wondering what’s in store for them! There are concerns about whether buffet restaurants will open again soon, or if at all. As a condition of reopening, other businesses are doing away with self-serve options, buffets, and salad bars. This pandemic has definitely prompted the question about what the long-term effect of the rules and regulations will be on the buffet sector. Right now it is evident that there is a significant impediment that the buffet industry will face and will have to overcome in the near future in order to sustain.
The challenges of the Buffet Industry
Customers are concerned about eating outside, and the concern is legit. Anxiety surrounding dining out is a serious challenge for food businesses these days, especially for those who offer buffet service. Food businesses now have to diligently work towards reclining customer confidence. The concern is the way the buffet system works; customers gather around the service stations and this leads to crowding. Since maintaining physical distancing is extremely important to combat Covid-19 and the buffet system fails to let us follow these guidelines meticulously.
Food Safety Risks
Even before this pandemic, buffet-style restaurants needed to follow and adhere to the cleanliness process carefully. Keeping the premises clean and safe in order to ensure good public health. Buffet systems also pose certain health and food safety risks which should be taken care of in order to protect customers from food-borne illness. Food contamination is one of the higher risks in buffet restaurants. The other risk we pose is of biological contamination which can occur from a customer or food handler sneezing or coughing onto the food. There are also chances of cross-contamination when serving utensils are used to serve different kinds of food. In order to tackle this, self-serve stations require close monitoring by a designated staff member.
There are chances of easy contamination with pathogens, as buffets have many high-touch surfaces and objects. Counters, trays, food-serving utensils, and other things are frequently touched by customers. Therefore, this means high standards of cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting processes must be followed.
What’s in store for Buffets?
While there are so many challenges to owning and operating a buffet restaurant, there are still some positive aspects to the changes we are experiencing. Food service businesses with buffets are adapting to the ‘new reality’ and this is how they’re doing it.
Switching Business Models
It is essential that food businesses with buffets strive to adapt if they want to sustain their business model. Buffet-style restaurants can consider switching to cafeteria or family-style of business models. In a cafeteria-style model, diners can choose from a variety of pre-crafted plates or a menu of individual items, and with family-style service, larger plates of food are served to tables for sharing. Buffet restaurants can also decide to shift completely to table side service, wearing a staff member can take the order or customers can order at the counter (obviously plexiglass barriers should be installed at the counters) and food will be served at the table.
Safety Certifications to the rescue!
Buffet restaurants will require more than just switching their business model. Of course, all the safety and hygiene guidelines will be adhered to, but customers still might have a sense of suspicion. To ease the consumers’ mind, buffets will have to collaborate with third-party agencies and certify their food establishments to reassure customer trust.
Safe Place to Dine is one such definitive certification program started by Equinox Labs which helps you to audit and certify your establishment’s safety and hygiene standards through a set of expertly curated parameters. Apart from getting your buffet certified, buffets can also choose to have 24/7 virtual surveillance to ensure that safety and hygiene are not compromised in any way.
Hygiene Quotient is an app-based service to monitor your facilities’ day-to-day safety and hygiene practices. Buffets can also ensure that corrective actions are implemented with the instant feedback that they receive through this paperless and hassle-free service. Connect with us today to get your business going!