What Will Food and Beverage at Events Look Like Post-COVID-19?

September 25, 2020

For the past few months, people have become more cautious about where they go and who they see. While some parts of daily life seem to be taking steps towards normalcy, many people are still hesitant to take the leap when it comes to gathering for events.

The hospitality and events industry is always changing, forcing properties to consistently adapt in order to stay current. In March 2020, when most of the world was placed on pause, adapting took on a whole new definition, especially when it comes to the food and beverage industry. So what will food and beverage look like at meeting and convention venues once we’re back to hosting live events again?

Here are a few changes that food and beverage is likely to experience in our new normal:

Added Safety

Many venues have adopted a contact-free set up that minimizes the risk of COVID-19 by reducing the number of people interacting with each other and handling the same objects. Although wearing masks and gloves was common in the food and beverage industry previously, it now sends a message that the venue is following recommended health guidelines and working to ensure guest safety.

Adhering to guidelines regarding the number of people allowed in various areas and answering questions about the actions that are being taken are also great ways to highlight how serious the venue is about safety. It’s important that guests receive the safest and highest quality service available, and that employees remain safe as well.

Meals and Buffets

The way food is served at events is experiencing changes that may outlast the pandemic. To minimize shared tools, buffets are no longer self-serve. Instead, attendants serve each guest. While this may slow line speed and efficiency, health and safety must be the priorities. Plated meals could be considered for more efficiency.

Despite the variety of a buffet, a plated meal may offer a safer and more comfortable experience because it means less movement inside the venue and less time wearing a mask. Trying both options may be a good way to see what works best at that venue.

Porcelain China Versus Disposable Plates

Selecting plates and silverware comes down to comfort and practicality. Even before COVID-19, porcelain china was, of course, sanitized before use. However, disposable plates communicate the same sense of caution that was mentioned previously. Some events may request the non-disposable option, in which case, it is crucial to provide information about the sanitation process to ensure guests are comfortable with the decision. Flexibility and the willingness to listen to people’s wants and concerns are most important.

Drink Stations

Although many areas of food and beverage operations have changed, drink stations may be the most noticeable, as they may require the most attention in an effort to maintain safety and a sense of normalcy. Typically, people head to the bar at an event to mingle, which is not conducive to social distancing. Posting signage will serve as important reminders for those waiting to be served to maintain distance from each other.

Equally important are precautions that need to be taken behind the bar. Considering a shield over consumables and moving the drink preparation stations to the back of the bar could reduce traffic and prevent guests from standing too close. Additionally, that type of set-up may remind patrons to return to their table after receiving their order.


In most cases, the maximum occupancy count includes staff. While this may lead to the temptation to reduce the number of staff working an event, you should consider increasing the number. With new responsibilities and precautions, additional helping hands may be necessary to ensure everything operates in an efficient and timely manner. Extra assistance would also ensure that cleaning and sanitization are completed as thoroughly as possible.

Flexibility, Planning and Creativity

Especially now, it is important to have a Plan B, and perhaps even a Plan C and a Plan D. Demonstrating preparedness for unpredictability not only helps ensure events flow more smoothly, it also shows guests that you are taking everything into consideration in order to deliver the best experience possible.

Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has created, there is opportunity for growth. Practices that work better than the ones that were used before the health crisis began will likely emerge, so it’s important to keep an open mind.

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Partner Voices
Dallas already boasts 35,000 hotel rooms, award-winning global cuisine, and a walkable downtown. But we are just getting started. Visit Dallas is thrilled to announce that the city of Dallas is doubling down with a massive new convention center and entertainment district. Featuring 800,000 square feet of exhibit area, 260,000 square feet of meeting rooms, and 170,000 square feet of ballroom. The center will connect business travelers with dining and shopping options in the popular Cedars District means more places to get down to business, and even more ways to unwind. “Dallas is already a great meetings and conventions destination, with the accessibility of two major airports, affordable labor, and an outstanding hotel product,” said D. Bradley Kent, Visit Dallas senior vice president and chief sales officer. “The new center and Convention Center District will enhance Dallas’ competitive position and are exactly what our customers’ need and have been asking for." What’s New – AT&T Discovery District Located in the heart of Downtown Dallas, this new district on the AT&T corporate campus is tailor-made for groups of all sizes. It boasts a multi-sensory experience, including outdoor event space, the AT&T Theater, and multiple dining outlets including JAXON Beer Garden and The Exchange, a bustling food hall. Hotels Coming Soon Names like the JW Marriott (Downtown), lnterContinental Dallas (Uptown), and Hotel Swexan (Uptown) are adding luxury amenities and bountiful event spaces. The projects will debut in 2023 and beyond. JW Marriott This new, 15-story, 283-room hotel will open in the heart of the city’s downtown Arts District this year. The property features a 25,000-square-foot grand ballroom, as well as a spa, restaurant, lobby bar, fitness center, and a rooftop pool deck and bar. InterContinental Dallas  Located in Cityplace Tower in Uptown, InterContinental Dallas will feature sweeping panoramic views of the Dallas skyline. Guests will enjoy spacious, high-end rooms and amenities, including more than 21,000 square feet of event space.   Hotel Swexan Hotel Swexan, a new, 22-story luxury property, is rising in Uptown’s Harwood District and will make its mark on the Dallas skyline. Opening this year, it is a sculptural building with cantilevered upper floors, as well as a 75-foot rooftop infinity-edge swimming pool and a hidden underground lounge.