The CEO of one of North America’s largest restaurant operators – and owner of Burger King worldwide – has penned an open letter detailing how the company is shifting its business model and adapting its operations as it looks to open restaurants again.
Jose Cil, who runs Restaurant Brands International, which also counts Tim Hortons and Popeyes in its stable, said that reopening restaurants again would require both confidence and comfort.
He wrote: “After eight long weeks, most of us in North America are now shifting our mindset from crisis mode to recovery mode. Governments and health authorities are releasing reopening plans for our communities. And everyone is feeling the responsibility of getting it right as the world reopens for business.
“With almost 15,000 restaurant locations across North America, team members and restaurant owners at Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes have done an incredible job in operating drive-thru, delivery and mobile channels efficiently and safely throughout this crisis. We are now moving into the next phase of reopening dining rooms according to guidance from local authorities and will be welcoming back millions of guests to dine-in at our convenient locations.
“In times of crisis, you rely heavily on what you believe in. We believe in the power of creativity and diversity of perspectives. This means finding ways to do things differently to make them better. And that a wide range of voices and perspectives makes us stronger. Both have been proudly on display during these past weeks.”
“We also believe in being hardworking, good people. To that end, our corporate teams and restaurant owners have contributed millions of dollars to help those impacted by COVID-19, including restaurant team members who have been impacted. I could not be prouder of our teams and our restaurant owners.
“Our 30 most senior restaurant leaders from around the world have participated in daily morning calls for the last two months and we have all benefited from the diversity of voices and experiences available to help us quickly navigate so many difficult issues.
“Our early decision to take the temperatures of all our team members at the start of each shift in North America is just one good example of something we learned from our colleagues in Asia where they are a couple months ahead of us and have learned how to safely reopen dining rooms while giving comfort to our guests.”
Mr Cil went on to say that Restaurant Brands International has “fully embraced” the notion that parts of its restaurants need to change for the foreseeable future, and possibly forever.
For instance, while it has mandated masks and gloves in the short-term, its brand and operations teams are now evaluating more comfortable and reusable masks that may become part of its standard uniforms.
He continued: “We have rapidly scaled our digital capabilities, including adding hundreds of new restaurants onto delivery apps and improving our drive-thru experience, expanding mobile order and pay and curbside pick-up options so that we are both quick and increasingly contactless in your guest experience.
“There has never been a better time to embrace a business model that serves tens of millions of people a day with speed and limited contact.
“As we read all the stories about our communities re-opening, all of the focus is understandably on ways to continue to keep us apart. But one of the most normal things in our lives is coming together. And that often includes sitting down with your family or friends and enjoying a meal together at a restaurant.
“We are working very hard to continue to build [customer] confidence in the measures we are taking to keep you safe in our restaurants – so you can more quickly return to a sense of comfort and normalcy in bringing your family inside to sit down for a meal.
“We have acrylic shields and contactless service at most of our restaurants. We are maintaining a ‘safe distance’ rule in our dining rooms – whether communities require it or not. We have designed beautiful tabletop signage to indicate which tables are open and which ones are reserved to help maintain safe distances.
“We will be sanitizing tables and chairs after each use and will have hand sanitizer available in the dining room for our guests. We have turned off our self-serve soda fountains and are offering beverages, extra condiments and trays from behind the front counter. And we benefit from a business model inside our restaurants that has minimal contact with anyone other than your friends and family who you are sitting with.
“Our team members worldwide are participating in thorough, rigorous training to ensure that all of our health and safety protocols are well-known and implemented. But equally important, we are reminding all our team members that they play an important role in creating a dining atmosphere that gives [customers] a safe, comfortable and welcoming space to gather with friends and families to enjoy time together over a meal.”
Mr Cil concluded by saying: “I believe we have the right balance between implementing essential procedures for the here and now, as well as pursuing our long-term vision of building the most loved restaurant brands in the world. And that includes re-establishing confidence and comfort in the dine-in restaurant experience.”