Wagamama prepares for ‘new normal’ as it launches collection service

The boss of Wagamama said the restaurant chain is preparing for a “new normal” in customer habits as it revealed its first ever collection service for customers.

Emma Woods, the dining chain’s chief executive, also told the PA news agency that the company is “not in a race” with its rivals to reopen restaurants rapidly, stressing that diners will only be welcomed to dine in restaurants when it is “absolutely safe”.

It came as the pan-Asian restaurant announced a new click and collect service for customers and plans to expand its delivery operations to 100 restaurants nationwide.

Last month, Wagamama announced plans to reopen 67 sites nationwide for delivery after shutting all its restaurants in March due to the Government-mandated lockdown.

A Wagamama employee holding two takeaway bags
Wagamama has reopened 67 of its sites for delivery and collection (Wagamama/PA)

The company said it is now launching click and collect operations from these locations and will also expand to 18 more sites on June 11, before opening the remaining 15 sites by the end of July.

Hospitality firms are still waiting for more clarity on when they can welcome customers through their doors, but the Government said restaurants and pubs will be able to open on July 4 at the very earliest.

Ms Woods said Wagamama is working towards July for the first reopenings but stressed that its schedule will be dictated by “safety and feedback from staff and customers”.

“It’s important to be clear that this is not a race,” she told PA. “Our priority has been safety throughout this process and that won’t change.

“Like our delivery operations, we’d expect to start a small trial and open in a phased way but don’t want to have false start by rushing.

“We hope we all of our Wagamamas will be open in the next six or nine months but it is very early days.”

She also said that not all sites will be able to reopen under current two-metre social distancing guidelines, with a small number of restaurants “too small” for current guidance.

The chief executive said: “The difference between using two metres rather than one metre is catastrophic to the industry.

“We are encouraged that the Government has started to talk about the possibility of one metre distancing, in line with the World Health Organisation.”

Wagamama said the new collection service is one of “many innovations” it will use to serve customers safely as it adapts to current social distancing guidelines.

Customers will be able pre-order and select a collection time to avoid a queue at restaurant by using the service.

All of its the delivery and collection sites will operate seven days per week from today with reduced opening hours of 4pm to 9.30pm.

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