When making assignments for any given issue of this magazine there are a variety of elements I can control but many more that I can’t. I hand out assignments, try to be as clear as I can about what I’d like to see covered, and then our team of experienced writers go out into the field and talk to restaurant developers and designers. When they come back and turn in their stories they replace my preconceptions with real-world facts, trends and case studies. And that’s one of my favorite things about being an editor for this publication.
In this issue, I knew the overall content direction, of course, but I didn’t understand how pervasive the theme of welcoming diners back on-site would be.
I could say I’ve been dining out more often, but it’s truer to say I’ve been dining in — at some of my favorite haunts but also at restaurants a little farther from home. I’ve gone back to fine dining as well, most recently at Chicago’s Tzuco where I got to sample many items from Carlos Gaytán’s incredible Mexican-French fusion menu. The beautifully designed space was packed with jubilant diners, ready to experience Mexican dishes through this Michelin-starred chef’s lens.
In this issue, you’ll find a feature that covers exterior package design and the ways building materials and curb appeal matter in luring diners back on-premises — or in directing them on how to get their food and moving on quickly. Get Granular (page 24) goes a little deeper on one aspect of this topic, focusing on specifying outdoor and digital signage.
Once inside, accommodating nervous diners venturing out post-pandemic means paying special consideration to their comfort and safety — and being sure to message as much. Greeting incoming guests and ensuring they get directed to the right area of the restaurant means that host stands (page 56) have had to evolve to meet current needs and expectations. And finding the right mix of off-premises, on-premises and even adding retail means that restaurants must now do more than ever — they have to do everything.
With that in mind, please also check out a webcast I will host on August 3 (also available on demand after it airs) called The Do-Everything Front-of-House. We’ll touch on all the things the new FOH will, should and could have — and how to do it all for diners in 2021 and beyond.