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  • Writer's pictureJason Thompson

How's Your Food? Redefining the restaurant experience.

Meal preparation is hard work. Buying the food, thinking about what to prepare and actually making a meal that everyone likes is a daily chore that isn’t always rewarding and is very often exhausting – and then there is the clean-up. It’s why going out to eat is such a pleasure. As restrictions continue to lift, restaurants need to invite people into an experience and share the stories behind what they do. Using the 4 Story Pillar framework makes this possible.

The 4 Story Pillars are: Empathize, Define, Present and Inspire. Let’s investigate each in the context of the restaurant experience.


The pandemic has turned people’s expectations around eating upside down. Let your customers know that you understand and share their feelings of frustration. After all, like them, you no doubt enjoy eating out too. Be clear on what matters to everyone: issues of safety, quality and control. Examine and share the challenges that you’re overcoming and detail the actions you’re taking to make a restaurant experience possible.


A good tip is to make your customer the hero of your story. Let them know you care about them as people, not just as patrons, and that you’re aware of their struggle, a deep desire to get out in a time that is restricting movement. Be clear on their goal, a great food experience, and highlight what is at stake, the risk of not eating well and the reward of a delicious meal.


Present your solution to their problem, through an action. Here’s where you get to be creative. Perhaps the action is re-creating a meal with you through your take-away service. Starting with the online menu, you can enhance the connection by providing chef’s notes on how the meal was created, how it’s best served and heated and what tasting notes to look for. Complement food with pre-mixed drinks that only need to be poured over ice at home. Maybe your action is themed days of the week that allow you to showcase your diversity. Is there an opportunity to develop a new business offering based on takeaway? If so, share that story.


Share your chef and employee stories. A global pandemic has showed us that we’re all in this together and human connection is powerfully meaningful. Showcase the people behind your food, their passions, inspirations and the actions they take to create the food experience people are enjoying. Highlight your partner relationships with farmers and other producers that let your customers know that the meal they order supports a multiplicity of people and businesses which strengthens many communities. Consider offering virtual cooking classes where some elements of a take-away meal are prepared by your restaurant and other elements are to be completed at home. Share a video on how to do it. If you’re re-opening for in restaurant experiences, share the safety procedures you’re taking and layout the visitor experience so that people know what to expect. Be sure to explain the safety taken for your employees as well as your customers as the well-being of everyone is critically important.

While our food experiences are changing, our connection to great food and the people behind it remain as strong as ever. Use the 4 Story Pillars to share the stories behind your passion and connect more deeply with your customers.

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