Featuring a focus group of hospitality industry experts - designers, operators, journalists - and physiologists, the white paper compiled by Dubai Design District-based interior design firm Roar outlines how restaurants will be designed and operated post-COVID 19.

“Safe spacing will be the most dramatic impact on restaurants – but according to our experts, one that is likely to be short-lived,” says Pallavi Dean, Founder and Creative Director of Roar.

The White Paper is based primarily on a panel discussion with the focus group that included David Macadam, CEO - The Middle East Council of Shopping Centers & Retail, and Naim Maadad, Chief Executive and Founder - Gates Hospitality alongside leading designers such as Isabel Pintado, Senior VP - Wilson Associates, Paul Bishop, Owner & Founder - Bishop Design, and Dean. It was supplemented by an online survey of 170 industry professionals.

The survey revealed that only a quarter (26%) think a return to normal spacing will happen before the end of this year. Most (64%) expect that to happen next year.

Comparing the F&B guidelines in the IBC (International Building Codes) that specify an average 15 sq ft per seated diner to the Current World Health Organisation guidelines calling for 27 sq ft per diner in F&B outlets, ‘Layout & Spacing’ is the first of the three key issues highlighted in the White Paper.

According to the White Paper, the contactless trend will have multiple impacts –some relating to objects, others to people. Sharing mezze with close family members will likely endure – but sharing platters at large corporate functions may not.

The prosaic, administrative, and functional aspects of the restaurant experience must also be reimagined, says the White Paper. Restrooms, in particular, must be completely re-planned, with every unnecessary touchpoint removed: doors, soap, water, and drying, etc.

However, people are a different matter. “Since the dawn of restaurants, a charismatic maitre d’, waiter, chef, barman or patron has been the lifeblood of a good restaurant - nowhere more than in the Middle East, where I grew up, " says Pallavi Dean. The White Paper concluded that this physical familiarity will ultimately endure.

To more insights from the white paper, please click here.