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As a result of the widespread measures taken by various governments around the world to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, a lot of business industries have been adversely impacted by these initiatives—none more so than the restaurant and food service industry, where businesses have had to endure over three consecutive months of decreased sales due to COVID-19 regulations. The past few weeks, however, have provided us a glimmer of hope as economies around the world are starting to cautiously tiptoe towards reopening. That being said, it is evident that we will need to get used to a new and different dining experience in the aftermath of the pandemic. For businesses to survive, they will have to adapt to the new normal and think of creative and innovative ways to thrive in the midst of adversity.
A Personal Loss
Regretfully, one of my favorite restaurants which I have been frequenting since my childhood has had to close due to the financial strain caused by the pandemic. It was a traditional dim sum restaurant that served an extensive menu of classic items like shrimp dumplings, pork buns and custard tarts. Like many Chinese families, eating dim sum—also called “yum cha” (饮茶), which translates to drinking tea—is a weekend brunch-hour tradition that played a significant part in my cultural upbringing and childhood. Little did I know that I would have to bid farewell to a place filled with many fond memories under such circumstances.
Like many Chinese families, eating dim sum—also called “yum cha” (饮茶), which translates to drinking tea—is a weekend brunch-hour tradition that played a significant part in my cultural upbringing and childhood.
In Crisis, We Turn to Data
As a result, I was motivated to write this short blog post to help restaurant owners in these unprecedented times. I have published a Tableau dashboard in this article that can serve as a visual reference point for the food and beverage industry to think through potential seating layouts. The goal of this dashboard is two-fold:
- To ensure that restaurants comply with their local public health department’s social-distancing requirements
- To empower restaurants to maximize their seating utilization, which will ultimately lead to higher potential revenue by testing out various seating configurations
How to Use the Tableau Dashboard
This dashboard is meant to be interactive, so you can test out various seating configurations. See below for the full list of functionalities you can interact with:
- Language Parameter – this is a fully bilingual dashboard that will allow you to toggle between English or Mandarin Chinese.
- Chair Configuration Parameter – this is perhaps the ‘secret sauce’ of the dashboard. There are five different seating configurations to choose from, two of which (B and C) assume that individual seats need to be distanced with your distancing requirements, and two other layouts (D and E) which assume that groups of chairs can be clustered as discrete, distinct groups.
- Social Distancing Parameter – the dashboard is defaulted to create a buffer distance of 1.5 meters from each seat. Feel free to increase or decrease your distancing threshold, and if the circles do not overlap between seats or groups of seats, you are in compliance with social distancing guidelines.
In terms of replicating and tailor-fitting this template dashboard for your own custom needs, I have made this Tableau workbook freely available for you to download. The only thing left would be to obtain a visual image of your restaurant seating plan and capture the x and y coordinates of your seats. This can be done easily with InterWorks’ Drawing Tool for Tableau. From there, you can simply replace the coordinate data points in my table schema with your layout’s coordinates and upload your floor plan image to replace the sample template’s.
We’re All in This Together
I hope you enjoyed this blog and found some tangible insights you can leverage to help our friends in the food and beverage industry. Please feel free to message me, or reach out if you have any questions as I’d love to continue the conversation! Also, keep an eye out for upcoming posts in this series about using Tableau for good as we explore various examples of how data and analytics can make a positive impact on our world.