Restaurant Reopening Messages

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Restaurant Reopening Messages

So far, Longhorn Steakhouse, Texas Roadhouse, Red Lobster, and Chili's have only communicated briefly about reopening for dine-in. The main pages of their websites include a short statement and a link to the page with safety precautions. Also, their social media pages include between none and one post related to opening for dine-in.


Findings

Longhorn Steakhouse

Messaging on the Website

  • There is a red bar at the top of the chain's website that says, "Dine-in is now available at select locations, check your local LongHorn at Find My LongHorn. Click here to see what we’re doing to keep our guests and team members safe."
  • A link refers to a PDF document with an infographic. It starts with a heading, "Our commitment to each other." Then, there is a short paragraph, which explains that Longhorn Steakhouse's priority is both customers' and employees' health and safety.
  • It is followed by two sections with pictographs. One of them shows what the chain will do, while the other, what is expected of guests.
  • Also, on the main page, below the red bar, there is a slideshow. One of the slides is dedicated to reopening. It includes the first section of pictographs, about what the chain and its team members will do for the reopening to be safe.
  • Next to the pictographs, there is a photo of one of the restaurants with a heading, "We're here to serve you. Dine-in and curbside to go available now." It is followed by invitation to check which Longhorns are open and concluded by, "We hope to see you soon."

Messaging and Response on Facebook

  • There is only one post (from May 18) dedicated to reopening on Facebook. It says, "Whether you choose to enjoy your LongHorn favorites in the comfort of your home or in our restaurant, we’ll be here to serve you. Some of our dining rooms are now open with limited seating. Check your local LongHorn’s status here: http://bit.ly/2MmqGZO"
  • The post is accompanied by two pictures. One is a photo of one of the restaurants with a tagline, "Now open for dine in & curbside to go." The other is the same infographic that is included in the PDF on the website but without the introductory paragraph.
  • The post got 648 reactions, with the majority being "like" or "love." There are also 197 comments and 195 shares.
  • There are multiple comments from people who have either already dined at Longhorn after reopening or plan to do it and talk about their memories from the restaurant. Examples include posts such as "We ate there yesterday. Very good service. Really enjoyed eating out again!" or "I ate there today, and the food was great and the service was great also. I can’t wait to go again."
  • Other comments include reviews of food that was ordered when the restaurants were closed ("We’ve ordered curbside pick up multiple times over the past 2 1/2 months and have been pleased every time. You’re doing a great job!"), questions related to the reopening ("Are you charging a fee to dine in?"), and complaints about it ("You website says our location is open for dining in and has a wait list. Yet your app says that the wait list isn’t available. I also tried the next nearest location and encountered the same thing.").
  • There are also posts with opinions about the chain ("Great restaurant!"), requests to bring back certain positions on the menu, or personal stories relevant to COVID-19.
  • The company is responding to many of the comments, especially to those that include questions relevant to the reopening. For example, one person asked, "The Fayetteville GA location was always packed, prior to the pandemic. A good problem for a restaurant to have, but how will you address the capacity? Are you going to reservations?." The response was, "Chris, we have reconfigured our dining rooms to follow the reopening guidelines established by the government and ensure proper spacing between each table."

Other Social Media Pages

  • There are no posts related to reopening on the chain's Twitter or Instagram pages.
  • However, on Instagram, the restaurant was tagged a few times by people who were able to go to one of the reopened locations and provide photos and descriptions of their experience.
  • Two of the users express their happiness that the lockdown is over. One says, "Day 67 Operation Lockdown and IT’S OVER!!!! We Made It! For those of you keeping track at home I had 98 take out meals from 83 different places. I was able to tipped all of the servers and an additional 39 who reached out and signed up with my offering. I know I spent more than double my stimulus money and it was worth every penny! I was glad to do it and would do it again! #ohiostrong #familia #wesurvived #wemadeit #staysafeohio #followtherulessowecanstayopen." The photo shows the outside of the restaurant.
  • The other user talks about his date, "Finally able to go on a proper date at @longhornsteaks with @yuffienori_cosplay . It was last minute after she got off work, but it was still nice." There is a photo of his girlfriend and the meal they shared.
  • There is also a photo of a woman outside the restaurant with a face mask. The post focuses on the experience of eating out with the new guidelines, "We had a gift card to use and gracious grandparents willing to babysit so we went out to lunch. Such a bizarre experience but definitely a time to remember! Paper menus, no touching anything, only a couple people in the restaurant, tables spaced far apart. What a time we're living in!"
  • The reopening-related tweets are mostly supportive. Some examples include, "To all our favorite restaurants: be encouraged. We are ready for your return. #OpenYourTables @EdgeWildSTL @BabbosBabbos @LongHornSteaks @AnnieGunnsStl @Ziasonthehill @SugarfireWingH," "@LongHornSteaks Enjoyed the visit," and "Went to @LongHornSteaks today, and well I gotta say it’s still my favorite chain restaurant...."
  • However, some also express concern, e.g., "@LongHornSteaks curious, do you ACTUALLY train your employee's on the IMPORTANCE of wearing a mask? Do they understand that there is a virus that has killed over 100k people so far? I just told 2 of your employees to pull up their mask and both had excuses not to." The company replied, "Hi there, can you DM us with more info? We'd like to look into this."
  • There are also tweets with questions related to reopening, such as "@LongHornSteaks Jxn TN location no longer doing call ahead seating. Isn’t call ahead exactly what makes sense when people are working to stay distanced?"


Texas Roadhouse

Messaging on the Website

  • There is a green bar at the top of the website. It says, "COVID-19 re-opening safety precautions."
  • Apart from the bar and the button that says "Waitlist," there is nothing related to the reopening on the main page. The emphasis is still on ordering to go, with a large infographic just below the menu.
  • The "COVID-19 Safety Precautions" page is an infographic that starts with "We promise that as we re-open our dining rooms, we will continue our already-high cleaning and sanitation standards." Then, it uses pictographs to show what the chain will do, which includes monitoring employees' health, using gloves and masks, and maintaining social distancing.
  • Next, there is a heading "We are one big family! Here is how you can help, too." The section explains (with a bullet-point list) when it's best to avoid visiting a restaurant and uses pictographs to demonstrate how to behave when eating-in.
  • The infographic ends with, "Our commitment will never change. Whether you choose to dine in or carry out, our commitment to Safety, Legendary Food and Legendary Service remains the same. And that’s a promise."

Messaging and Response on Facebook

  • There is one post related to the reopening on the Texas Roadhouse's Facebook page, "As we begin to re-open dining rooms at our restaurants across the country, we’re focused on making sure we have the necessary safety precautions in place to provide our employees and guests peace of mind. Click the link to learn more about the steps we’re taking to keep our restaurants as safe as possible. https://www.texasroadhouse.com/covid-safety-precautions"
  • The visual is a part of the infographic described above, which shows what the chain will do to ensure safety of its guests and employees.
  • The post has 2,300 reactions, of which the majority are likes. There are also 1,300 comments and 334 shares.
  • While multiple comments are supportive, there are also many that voice concerns about the safety measures taken by the restaurant.
  • Examples of supportive comments include, "Thank you for trying to act safely and responsibly during your open up. There will always be critics and I’m sure as time goes on we will all learn to make adjustments to our plans. I also want to say thank you for selling meat to the public during these trying times. We wouldn’t have had many of the meals we were able to have without you. It helped to make our quarantine a little better. Best of luck on your reopening. We hope to visit sometime soon." and "For all you nay sayers... STAY HOME and cook and hideaway! Nothing will ever be good enough!No one will force you to go out... only to stay home!!! Looking forward to a good steak!!😋"
  • There are also posts about the restaurant taking sufficient safety measures before it was forced to close, praises about its service and food, and jokes related to people that are overly cautious.
  • Several of the comments are focused on the ineffectiveness of wearing gloves, e.g., "Glad you are reopening, but the gloves need to go! Just wash your hands!!!! Gloves are much dirtier than washed hands unless you change them between EVERY transaction." or "NO on gloves unless you are replacing them after every interaction. Gloves are a cross-contamination barrier. All gloves do when left on is more easily spread germs! It is better, safer to simply frequently wash and/or sanitize."
  • Other concerns voiced by users include the criticism of measuring employees' temperature as an indicator of infection, overall dissatisfaction with being served by people in masks and gloves, and questions over menus carrying the virus.

Messaging and Response on Instagram and Twitter

  • On Instagram, there is one picture that shows a pictograph of an employee with a mask and a description, "Gloves and masks on all of our employees." The post is the same as the one on Facebook.
  • It got 1,885 likes.
  • Like on Facebook, there are multiple posts criticizing the gloves, as well as several criticizing the masks. Other negative comments are from users who generally dislike the chain (there are many that simply say "I hate Texas Roadhouse").
  • While supportive and neutral comments are the minority, they are either asking about the reopening of certain locations, thanking for taking the necessary safety measures, or expressing that the author can't wait to eat at one of the reopened locations.
  • While there are no tweets by the chain related to the reopening, several users posted about it.
  • Most of them are positive. For example, one user said, "@texasroadhouse I'm so excited," while another tweeted, "Dinner was excellent thank you @texasroadhouse #lawrence! Man its feels good to eat out again!"
  • A few tweets criticized the quality of food and service. One of them said, "Ohhh no @texasroadhouse ...after not eating out in forever, we decided to make our first trip to your restaurant & boy was it ever absolutely awful. At half capacity, I thought you would be doing so much better."
  • There were also several tweets that talked about the reopening as a big event. One posted a photo and noted the restaurant attracted media attention, while another said, "Celebrated Kentucky’s #COVIDReopening of restaurants today at @texasroadhouse in Paducah. Hopefully this is one large step towards rebuilding our broken economy, getting back to work & returning to some sense of normalcy. #KY1"
  • Only one tweet expressed concerns over the chain's safety procedures. It includes an open letter to Texas Roadhouse about their ineffectiveness.


Red Lobster

Messaging on the Website

  • A red bar at the top of the main page says, "We're open to serve you! Learn more here." It is the only mention of the reopening on the main page.
  • The "Coronavirus Alert" page that is linked on the main page is brief and doesn't include any visuals.
  • It starts with "We are beginning to re-open our dining rooms so that you can enjoy your favorite seafood with us," which is followed by an invitation to check which restaurants are open.
  • Then, it ensures that the chain is reinforcing and refining safety and sanitary measures that were already in place, as well as following recommendations by relevant bodies. The measures are listed in bullet points. They include monitoring employees' health, offering single-use menus, social distancing, requiring that employees wear face masks, and various sanitizing-related precautions.
  • Additionally, there is a link to the COVID-19 FAQ page that answers questions about food sourcing, face masks for employees, the company's workforce, and touchless payments, among others.

Messaging and Response on Social Media

  • There are no posts related to the reopening on Facebook.
  • A few users posted relevant comments under the most recent post. However, they are mostly negative.
  • Some of them mention that the advertising is false, and many of the locations remain closed. Others ask questions about which locations are open for dining in.
  • One user describes the negative experience after the reopening. They say, "Glad our dining room is open again in Lincoln, Nebraska, but only having dinner items available all day is disappointing. A lunch pick 3 combo would have been plenty, but since only dinner combos are currently available, I spent a lot more money for not that much more food. What a scam."
  • Similarly, there are no relevant tweets by the chain on its Twitter page.
  • The only tweet that talks about the reopening is from a user describing their visit to one of the reopened locations. It says, "Finally got to @redlobster w/my little seafood eater. The other one likes chicken. Lol #lunch #memorialdayweekend2020."
  • The chain hasn't posted about reopening on its Instagram. Also, while some users posted photos from dining at Red Lobster, the posts don't comment on reopening.


Chili's

Messaging on the Website

  • There is no information about reopening at the top of the main page. It only says that the available options are pickup, delivery, and curbside.
  • However, after scrolling down several sections, there is a statement, "We're opening our dining rooms with safety as our priority. As some states lift stay-at-home restrictions, we want to proactively share our plan with our Guests on how we're committed to a clean, safe and socially-distant dining experience. Learn more."
  • The page dedicated to reopening includes several sections with visuals of people dining in, as well as slogans such as "Squeaky Clean" or "6 Feet Please."
  • The main heading is, "We are committed to opening our dining rooms safely," followed by the "Find the Location" button.
  • The first section provides a list of locations that are open for dine-in. Its heading is "We're together again, but from a safe distance."
  • The following sections are dedicated to briefly describing social distancing, sanitizing, and Team Member safety standards. There is also one that ensures that delivery and pickup are still available.
  • At the bottom of the page, the chain repeats that it is committed to reopening its restaurants safely, according to the recommendations by all the relevant bodies.
  • There are three additional sections that pop-up upon clicking on them. They provide more detailed information on safety, sanitizing, and Team Member safety standards, as well as on to-go and delivery options. In addition to listing safety requirements that employees have to adhere to, there is also an overview of the initiatives to help the workforce such as free counseling and a relief fund.

Messaging and Response on Facebook

  • There is one post about the reopening on Facebook, which says, "Curbside, dine-in or delivery, Chili’s has your back (baby back) on safety and cleanliness. To see a full rundown of how we do what we do, click thru: https://www.chilis.com/reopening-dining-rooms."
  • The accompanying visual includes a tagline "Any way you want it. Dine-in. Delivery. Curbside/To-Go." It also lists the types of precautions on colorful backgrounds.
  • It got 972 reactions (mostly likes), 431 comments, and 118 shares.
  • The majority of the comments aren't directly related to the reopening for dine-in but include complaining about weak curbside or delivery service. However, several users are praising those services and criticizing the negativity.
  • As for comments related to dining-in, they are mostly questions about whether specific locations already have that option or wishes that certain locations would soon open for dining in.
  • There are also a few comments from people who have already dined-in after reopening. They include both praise ("Thank you for being open tonight! Dinner was wonderful!") and criticism ("Went Friday for lunch, service was very slow, took a long time to order and also get our food. When we got the bill we were charged for things we didn't order. Took for ever to get check straightened out I gave cash to pay bill asked to you need money back we said yes. Had to go look for server never came back to table.!!").
  • Also, several users commented on the employees not adhering to the safety standards, e.g., not wearing gloves and masks. For example, "No, you don't! Ate there on Saturday 5/16 and many servers, including ours, were not wearing any mask."

Other Social Media Pages

  • The same post was included on the chain's Twitter. It got one comment, 18 retweets, and 58 likes.
  • The comment says, "I just wonder how hard it is to follow an order." There is a discussion below it, with another user explaining that a few employees not caring about precautions don't reflect on the company as a whole.
  • Also, several users tagged the restaurant and expressed their excitement about eating there. Examples include "@Chilis has a power over me. There’s no restaurant in this world besides Chili’s, where I’m always down for it," "Missed coming to @Chilis it’s been a while," and "Me when I’m at @Chilis for the first time post-quarantine and the waiter is bringing out a plate of sizzlin’ fajitas" (with a video of a dressed-up boy who is excited to see his date coming).
  • Another tweet suggests that one of the reopened locations is popular, "It’s getting packed here at @Chilis now. Henderson, Nevada location. Line outside the door."
  • The company's Instagram account also includes the same post, which got 1,476 likes.
  • The vast majority of comments are questions about whether specific locations are opened. There are also multiple that express excitement about the chance to dine-in.
  • The only negative comment says, "I won't ever eat in if masks are required and social distancing. So ridiculous."
  • Also, only one user has already dined at Chili's and said, "We just ate at your Lexington location and had a great time! Keep up the great work!!"
  • Among users that tagged Chili's, there aren't many posts related to the reopening. However, one post provides a detailed description of the experience, including safety measures. While she praises the restaurant, she admits that she felt unsafe eating out. Another user is extremely positive about the experience and the service.


Common Themes

  • Among all four chains, the communication about reopening for dining in is brief. They have dedicated sections or PDF documents on the website, as well as between zero and one relevant social media posts on the platform.
  • For each of them, the messaging focuses on safety precautions, including what they are requiring of their employees and asking of their customers.
  • Apart from Chili's, all of the companies included the bar about reopening for dine-in that linked to the safety measures standard at the top of their website.
  • Longhorn Steakhouse and Texas Roadhouse communicate about reopening of their restaurants for dine-in in a very similar way, including providing comparable information regarding safety and parallel visuals (pictographs).
  • However, since Texas Roadhouse's social media posts put more focus on its employees wearing masks and gloves, the company received more criticism for it.
  • Customers of all four chains ask questions related to reopening, including which locations are open or if they take reservations. Also, the three chains that posted about it on social media received mixed reactions, though the response was more positive for Longhorn Steakhouse compared to Texas Roadhouse and Chili's.
  • While, for all of the above chains, multiple customers are happy with the possibility to eat out again, there are also groups who are concerned about the safety standard or dissatisfied with the service at one of the recently opened locations.
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