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Restaurants Opening, Takeout Food Among Biggest Coronavirus Pain Points for Diners

Diners complain of financial concerns, long wait times and bad drive-thru experiences
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As social distancing restrictions begin to ease in certain states, more businesses like gyms and restaurants have begun to reopen across the country. But a new survey by Datassential reveals that the coronavirus pandemic has vastly changed the way people approach dining out. These are some of the biggest pain points facing restaurant-goers as restrictions lift.

How people approach and see restaurants has changed

How people approach and see restaurants has changed
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Dining out used to have a level of spontaneity to it, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, a great deal of planning now goes into it. Diners now worry more about a number of things, changing the way they see restaurants. Here are the top 10 concerns.

10. Some complained of bad experiences during the pandemic

10. Some complained of bad experiences during the pandemic
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Twenty-eight percent of respondents noted having a bad experience while eating food from a restaurant. This choice was more likely among Generation Z and millennials.

9. Some had bad drive-thru experiences

9. Some had bad drive-thru experiences
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Overall, 30% of survey respondents noted that they had a bad drive-thru experience during COVID-19. This selection was more likely among Generation Z.

8. Some don’t trust staff to handle their food properly

8. Some don’t trust staff to handle their food properly
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While 47% of diners reported that they’re willing to dine-in at a restaurant that has outdoor seating, 39% of survey respondents stated that they didn’t trust staff to handle their food properly.

7. Some don’t have the money

7. Some don’t have the money
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The coronavirus has put a financial strain on many people. Because of that, 40% of survey respondents said they avoid restaurants due to finances. This response was more likely among Generation X.

6. Some see restaurant food as a hassle

6. Some see restaurant food as a hassle
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Nearly half, 49%, of respondents to the survey said they avoid restaurant food now because it has become a hassle to dine out.

5. There are safety concerns about restaurant food

5. There are safety concerns about restaurant food
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Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the coronavirus cannot be transmitted through food, 49% of survey respondents expressed safety concerns over restaurant food.

4. Some said takeout isn’t as good

4. Some said takeout isn’t as good
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While some reopened restaurants have opted for call-ahead or to-go options, 52% of survey respondents said that restaurant food isn’t as good when ordering takeout.

3. Some say dining out has become stressful

3. Some say dining out has become stressful
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While experiencing stress and anxiety during the coronavirus pandemic is normal, 58% of survey respondents said that dining out has become more stressful due to COVID-19.

2. Some try to avoid third-party apps

2. Some try to avoid third-party apps
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Although many restaurants and services are offering free delivery through third-party apps, 61% of survey respondents reported that they try to avoid such apps.

1. Some have to plan ahead when dining out

1. Some have to plan ahead when dining out
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The majority of survey respondents, 62%, said they now have to plan ahead when they want to eat out.

What are the biggest obstacles?

What are the biggest obstacles?
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Although steps have been taken to comply with social distancing guidelines, there are still obstacles facing restaurants. Among the respondents, younger generations were more likely to notice hurdles when it comes to dining out. Here were the six biggest obstacles reported.

6. Some were put on hold for too long

6. Some were put on hold for too long
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Thirty percent of survey respondents reported that they were put on hold for too long when trying to order food. More than 50% of Generation Z respondents complained about long wait times, as did 42% of millennials.

5. Some experienced frustration around online ordering

5. Some experienced frustration around online ordering
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About 32% of respondents said they had given up on ordering because the website or online ordering process was frustrating. Of Generation Z respondents, 47% said they experienced this.

4. There was confusion around which restaurants offer takeout

4. There was confusion around which restaurants offer takeout
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Confusion about which restaurants offer pickup or delivery was another obstacle younger generations were more likely to face. Of the respondents, 34% said they experienced uncertainty over which restaurants in their area offered takeout.

3. Some complained that it’s difficult to find restaurant specials

3. Some complained that it’s difficult to find restaurant specials
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Thirty-nine percent of respondents said it’s been difficult to find what menu items and specials were being offered by restaurants in their area.

2. Some said it’s difficult to find open restaurants

2. Some said it’s difficult to find open restaurants
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Forty percent of respondents said it was difficult to determine which restaurants in their area were open or closed.

1. Safety and sanitation precautions are difficult to find

1. Safety and sanitation precautions are difficult to find
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The most common obstacle according to respondents was safety and sanitation precautions. Fifty-two percent said they had experienced difficulty finding safety and sanitation procedures taken by restaurants in their area.

What are the biggest inconveniences with restaurant food during COVID?

What are the biggest inconveniences with restaurant food during COVID?
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While diners expressed concerns about food and processes, these 13 challenges were labeled as the biggest restaurant-related inconveniences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

13. Some respondents weren’t OK with limited options for ordering ahead

13. Some respondents weren’t OK with limited options for ordering ahead
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For 7% of respondents, limited menu options when pre-ordering was the most inconvenient part about ordering restaurant food.

12. Some thought expensive ingredients were limited

12. Some thought expensive ingredients were limited
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Some respondents, 7%, felt that restaurants have skimped on expensive ingredients during the coronavirus pandemic.

11. Some don’t like having to call

11. Some don’t like having to call
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Eight percent of respondents said that the most inconvenient part about ordering restaurant food was having to make a phone call when there wasn’t an option to order online.

10. Some said portions seem smaller

10. Some said portions seem smaller
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Portion sizes seemed smaller than before the coronavirus pandemic, according to 10% of respondents.

9. Some wanted a delivery option

9. Some wanted a delivery option
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Eleven percent of respondents said it’s inconvenient that some restaurants offer only pickup.

8. Some don’t want to use third-party services

8. Some don’t want to use third-party services
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Twelve percent of survey respondents said they didn’t want to use third-party services like Grubhub, Uber Eats and Postmates to order their food.

7. Some said takeout food wasn’t as desirable

7. Some said takeout food wasn’t as desirable
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According to 13% of respondents, the most inconvenient part about ordering restaurant food was that some foods don’t taste as good when ordering delivery or takeout.

6. Prices seem higher

6. Prices seem higher
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Prices seemed higher than before the pandemic, according to 16% of survey respondents.

5. Some restaurants have changed their hours

5. Some restaurants have changed their hours
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Sixteen percent of survey respondents said that the most inconvenient part of ordering restaurant food was that many restaurants have changed or limited their hours during the coronavirus pandemic.

4. Some said food arrived cold

4. Some said food arrived cold
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According to 16% of survey takers, restaurant food often arrives cold and needs to be reheated.

3. Long lines are a concern

3. Long lines are a concern
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One pain point for people ordering restaurant food is the long lines at drive-thrus and when waiting to pick up food. About 18% of survey respondents said that long wait times are the most inconvenient thing about ordering restaurant food.

2. Preliminary research is sometimes required

2. Preliminary research is sometimes required
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Nearly 20% of survey takers said that the most disruptive part about ordering restaurant food was having to research which restaurants were open during coronavirus quarantine.

1. There are reduced menu options

1. There are reduced menu options
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The most common inconvenience, according to 22% of survey respondents, was the limited menu options restaurants offer during the coronavirus pandemic.

The majority of consumers don’t mind safety precautions

The majority of consumers don’t mind safety precautions
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From wearing a mask and gloves to disinfecting takeout packages, many consumers don’t mind the safety precautions when it comes to ordering restaurant food. However, here are the five most common concerns regarding precautions.

5. Some complained that food isn’t packaged properly

5. Some complained that food isn’t packaged properly
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When it comes to safety precautions, 8% of survey takers complained that restaurant food wasn’t packaged properly or safely during the pandemic. Respondents said that restaurant food leaked and it was hard to sanitize.

4. Some expressed concerns over re-plating food

4. Some expressed concerns over re-plating food
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Eleven percent of survey respondents said that restaurant food was hard to re-plate once it got to the house.

3. Some said it’s hard to social distance

3. Some said it’s hard to social distance
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While it’s true that some states have more social distancing guidelines than others, 12% of survey respondents said that the most inconvenient part about ordering restaurant food was how challenging it was to social distance when picking it up.

2. Some said it’s inconvenient to disinfect takeout packages

2. Some said it’s inconvenient to disinfect takeout packages
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Of the survey respondents, 13% said it was difficult to disinfect takeout packages once in the house.

1. Some complained about wearing a mask

1. Some complained about wearing a mask
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And 13% of survey takers said that the most inconvenient precaution when ordering restaurant food was wearing a mask in the restaurant.

How accessible has online ordering been for consumers?

How accessible has online ordering been for consumers?
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According to the survey, most diners have been happy with the online ordering process. However, respondents expressed 13 concerns over online ordering, including cost and wrong deliveries.

13. Some said couriers stole items

13. Some said couriers stole items
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Of the survey respondents, 5% said that couriers stealing items had been the most inconvenient part about ordering restaurant food online.

12. Some said it’s difficult to get problems resolved

12. Some said it’s difficult to get problems resolved
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Some respondents, 8%, said that it was difficult to get problems resolved when ordering restaurant food online.

11. Some complained that online ordering is confusing

11. Some complained that online ordering is confusing
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Nine percent of survey respondents said that online ordering was confusing and hard to navigate.

10. Concerns over food safety

10. Concerns over food safety
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Of the survey respondents, 9% said that couriers had improperly and unsafely handled their food.

9. Some complained that menu items are sometimes unavailable

9. Some complained that menu items are sometimes unavailable
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Nine percent of respondents said that the most bothersome part about ordering restaurant food online was having to make substitutions when something you ordered was unavailable.

8. Some felt delivery times are unreliable

8. Some felt delivery times are unreliable
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According to 9% of survey respondents, unreliable wait times caused the most inconveniences when ordering restaurant food online.

7. Some reported communication issues with restaurants

7. Some reported communication issues with restaurants
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There have also been some communication issues with restaurants when ordering food online, according to 9% of survey respondents.

6. Some complained that menu items are described poorly

6. Some complained that menu items are described poorly
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Another obstacle when it comes to ordering restaurant food online has been the poor description of menu items. Ten percent of survey takers said that the size, quantity and ingredients were described poorly.

5. Takeout prices and menu prices seemed to vary for some

5. Takeout prices and menu prices seemed to vary for some
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According to 12% of survey respondents, takeout prices seemed more expensive when ordering restaurant food online than they did prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

4. Some complained of receiving incorrect orders

4. Some complained of receiving incorrect orders
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About 14% of people who took the survey said their biggest obstacle with online ordering was receiving orders that were incorrect.

3. Some said there is a poor selection of options

3. Some said there is a poor selection of options
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Fifteen percent of respondents said they had experienced a poor or limited selection of options.

2. Some said delivery takes too long

2. Some said delivery takes too long
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One of the most common inconveniences when ordering online, according to 15% of respondents, was the long delivery wait times.

1. Some complained of extra fees

1. Some complained of extra fees
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And finally, the inconvenience plaguing customers most was the extra fees associated with online ordering. Seventeen percent of respondents complained about surcharges and high delivery costs when ordering restaurant food online.

So, is dining out worth the extra effort?

So, is dining out worth the extra effort?
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Although survey respondents reported having concerns when they were under shelter-in-place guidelines, the majority believed that supporting restaurants is worth the extra work. Here are the three most common answers.

3. Some say it’s just as easy as it always was

3. Some say it’s just as easy as it always was
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Although many respondents believed that dining out had gotten more difficult, 23% believed that it’s just as easy as it’s always been. This response was more likely among millennials.

2. Some say it’s too much work

2. Some say it’s too much work
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Twenty-seven percent of respondents said ordering through restaurants was too much work. This response was more likely among households where the annual income is less than $50,000.

1. Many say they’re willing to take extra steps

1. Many say they’re willing to take extra steps
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But 50% of respondents were willing to go the extra mile to support restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic. This response was more likely among households with kids. Locations across the country have started to reopen; here is a list of states currently open to dine-in.

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