Your Bubble is Ready: Plastic Pods Offer Solution for COVID Dining

Christian Lowe wrote . . . . . . . . .

A romantic dinner for two. The wine is excellent, the food delicious. It’s almost like the good old days. Except for the giant, see-through lampshades on your heads.

For restaurant owners worrying how they can welcome back customers but keep them safe from COVID-19, a French designer has created a cylinder of transparent plastic that hangs from a cable on the ceiling, much like a lampshade. A scoop cut out of the back allows diner to sit and stand up without having to bend over double.

Christophe Gernigon, who invented the device, called the Plex’Eat, said the designs already on the market looked like booths in prison visiting rooms, so were not inviting for customers.

“I wanted to make it more glamorous, more pretty,” he said. His design will go into production next week, and he said he had received interest from France, Belgium, Canada, Japan and Argentina.

France is starting to relax some of the restrictions it imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Shops and hairdressers have re-opened, and some children are back at school.

But the government has yet to give the green light for the re-opening of restaurant and bars because they pose particular problems for disease control.

Diners cannot eat while wearing a surgical mask, and if tables were removed to ensure customers are a safe distance from each other, many owners say they would not be able to make enough money to cover their costs.

Mathieu Manzoni, owner of the H.A.N.D restaurant that serves American-style food not far from Paris’ Louvre museum, invited Gernigon to the restaurant this week to hear his pitch. Manzoni said he was planning to place an order.

“Will people like it? I can’t say but I want to believe that it can add something because I find it fun,” he said in his restaurant, which is open for takeaway orders only.

Source : Reuters

In Pictures: Frozen Treats

Your Phone will Soon be Your Restaurant’s Dine-in Menu

Jennifer Marston wrote . . . . . . . . .

A couple of years ago I came across a restaurant in Dallas, Texas that featured a menu written entirely in emojis. It was unexpected and creative, yet clear enough that a server didn’t have to come over and re-explain everything on the page.

I’m not (necessarily) advocating we battle the current restaurant industry fallout with emoji menus, but maybe we could use some of that outside-the-box thinking when it comes to revising menu formats to fit the new reality we live in.

Since reusable menus are basically germ repositories, it’s no surprise they’re out now that dining rooms are reopening. The CDC’s recently released guidelines for reopening suggest restaurants “avoid using or sharing items such as menus” and to “instead use disposable or digital menus. . .” The National Restaurant Association’s guidelines tell restaurants to “make technology your friend” and suggest mobile ordering, and every other restaurant tech company that contacts me these days is offering up some form of digital menu for restaurants to integrate into their operations.

A lot of restaurants will definitely start out by offering simple disposable menus. Paper is cheaper than software most of the time, and typing up and printing out a menu is faster than onboarding your business to a new tech solution.

Over time, though, that could change. As more emphasis gets placed on digital ordering for everyone, we’ll access more restaurant menus through our own phones and mobile devices. That opens up a whole world of possibilities in terms of what restaurants could one day offer on their menus beyond just the food items themselves.

Just a few examples: Menus could provide in-depth information the ingredients in a dish, like where that cilantro came from and how many months the apple traveled before it hit your plate. Menus might also include ratings from other customers, and Amazon-esque “you might also like” recommendations could show up on the screen. Maybe you could dictate the portion size you want, thereby reducing food waste.

With AI making its way into restaurant tech more and and more, restaurants could also build dynamic pricing into menus, based on time of day, foot traffic, weather, and offer coupons and promotional offers in real time. And sure, if someone really wanted to, an emoji menu would probably fly right now in more than a few places.

Most of these things exist already, though they’re not widespread and some are still in conceptual stages. The massive overhaul of the restaurant menu is a chance to start bringing those disparate pieces together to revamp the way we order our food.

Source: The Spoon

World’s Best Restaurant Noma Reopens as a Cheeseburger Joint

Richard Vines wrote . . . . . . . . .

Noma, four times winner of the title of World’s Best Restaurant, reopens today in Copenhagen—as a wine bar with burgers.

You normally have to book a table months in advance at Noma, whereas the new incarnation is no reservations. The prices are accessible, too. A burger starts at 125 Danish kroner ($18.40) to take away, which might sound a lot outside Denmark but is in line with local costs and compares with 2,650 kroner for the usual menu of about 18 courses. (The burger is 150 kroner at the table.)

Fans of Redzepi’s creative gastronomy need not fret. The wine bar is a pop-up in the gardens of Noma restaurant, which is scheduled to open in 1-½ to 2 months after the coronavirus shudown. Redzepi says his aim is to help kick-start social life in Copenhagen.

“Our dream for this is to get people active, to start coming out again,” Redzepi says in a telephone interview. “That’s the main purpose. We wanted to come up with something to show everybody is welcome, which is why we decided on the mighty burger to open. The response has been incredible.”

Don’t expect a gourmet burger with truffles and caviar.

“It’s got to be a burger as we know it, so we are doing a cheeseburger,” he says. “But what we have in our toolbox is that we have the best ingredients, the best quality of meat. The potato buns are going to be made fresh every morning, and the meat will be ground three times a day from grass-fed beef, and we’re hand-chopping organic onions. Small things like that make a big difference.” Vegetarian and vegan options will also be available.

The new space seats 65 and will be open from Thursdays through Sundays, 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Beers will be 50 kroner and wine from 95 kroner a glass and 425 kroner a bottle. Isn’t Redzepi concerned there will be long queues? A similar experiment in Mexico found walk-in queues from 4 a.m. for seatings 14 hours later, he says.

“No, we hope for them,” he says and laughs. “But you have to realize that Copenhagen is not London. We are a city that is 10 times smaller than London and we have zero tourists. The town is so quiet. I’ve never seen it this quiet.”

The formal restaurant will reopen with about half the number of guests, Redzepi says, with a single seating instead of two.

“A lot of the people from the first service would stay on the premises, in the garden or the lounge,” he says. “Anyway, I wouldn’t honestly expect to fill two seatings. Where would the guests come from?

“Our government has given us a fighting chance to get through this (coronavirus). People don’t have to wear masks and the restrictions are not crippling. We have to have two square meters per guest and there has to be a meter between tables. Those are the bigger ones, plus strict sanitation rules you need to follow but we were doing that anyway.

“I don’t know how things will change. We are one of the best restaurants in the world and we are opening up with burgers, and ice-creams for kids. How much more different can it be? We are doing the most casual thing of all the good restaurants. Later on, we will have a few more wine-bar type snacks, oysters crudités, vegetables. This is a new experiment where the door is open to everyone and it feels quite exciting.”

He says he is trying to work out if it will be possible to have a casual, walk-in dining space at Noma alongside the restaurant.

“I still feel like cooking and taking the best of the seasons and putting it on the plate, but maybe Noma can be more than that as well.

“If we can find a way to fuse the Noma that was with Noma of the Covid-19 era, it is exciting.

“The restaurant trade is going to be incredibly hard hit over the next year. Most restaurants in Europe kept afloat by government aid and that makes a giant difference. But once everything opens up, people are going to be worried to go out and there are no tourists in town. Margins are already thin. It is going to be very bad. There is going to be a lot of unemployment in our trade. Everyone is going to have to think very differently for sure.”

Source: Bloomberg

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