How Will the Pandemic Change Restaurant Design?

How Will the Pandemic Change Restaurant Design?

One of the biggest health hazards during the pandemic has been proven to be the lack of social distance and the trapped air in closed spaces. This presented a great economical challenge: how do we keep the businesses that depend from people gathering in the same room running? Restaurants, cafés and bars were severely affected by this issue, as well as servers who mainly depend on the customers’ tips for surviving. 

«All around the world, restaurants and other establishments started asking for permits to extend their serving area towards the public space, thus being able to welcome nearly the same amount of customers as before while preserving social distance.»


This turned out to be one of the most ingenious outcomes of this health crisis, which seems very likely to stay even after things go back to something resembling our old normality. We might as well be facing one of the most promising evolutions within restaurant design.

There are several aspects that must be taken in consideration for this to be viable. Many detractors argue that public space must not be occupied by business owners, however, most of these areas were previously packed with private vehicles that do not only pollute, but also commonly block the pedestrians’ way. With the correct regulation, authorities can condition these permits to business owners who will take responsibility for these areas, their vegetation, hygiene and safety. On the other hand, this reduction of privileges for cars has promoted alternative forms of transportation in several cities, with some cases in which whole streets have been closed to car traffic and turned into spaces for leisure.

There’s still much to be planned and done for this to be a sustainable initiative, but these measures can benefit a city’s population in many ways.


This much necessary economic boost and job source can also help to revitalize the cities’ life, brightening public space and giving us back some of the joy that the pandemic has taken away. The implementation of removable structures can also guarantee the flexibility that public space needs, while making business owners commit to a responsible use of the space. The resiliency that these establishments have shown is also a source of hope for upcoming times, for any new crisis or hazard that awaits us in the future. After all, if there’s something we have learned from this pandemic is that we must all join forces as a society and stand together: that united we will always find away, we’re always stronger.

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  • Kate Whiting, “Will COVID-19 usher in a new culture of outdoor living and dining?”, WeForum , https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/07/covid19-ushers-outdoor-active-restaurant-culture/
  • “Dining in an Era of COVID-19: Repurposing Public Spaces”, Local Government Commission, https://www.lgc.org/newsletter/dining-in-an-era-of-covid-19-repurposing-public-spaces-for-retail-re-opening/
  • Regan Stephens, “How restaurant design will change post-pandemic”, Fortune, https://fortune.com/2021/04/17/covid-restaurant-design-outdoor-indoor-dining/
  • Gene Marks, “Outdoor dining has been a Covid bright spot. Let’s make it permanent”, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/jan/10/coronavirus-covid-outdoor-dining-restaurants


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