Covid-19: Honest Burgers creates 'burger heatmap' to aid reopening plans

Restaurant chain Honest Burgers will reopen eight of its 39 sites today, for delivery only via third-party platform Deliveroo.

The branches have been closed since the Covid-19 coronavirus started to escalate in the UK, but they will gradually be reopened in the form of ‘dark restaurants’ – with close to 150 of its 700 workforce starting to come off furlough to support the operation.

Head of people at Honest Burgers, Chantal Wilson, described the plans as a “soft opening”, recognising there will be significant challenges related to social distancing, dealing with peaks in demand with a skeleton staff, and limiting daily sales. But she also revealed the hospitality chain has developed a ‘burger heatmap’ to help decide which branches to reopen.

In order to reopen the burger chain wanted to figure out where its people live in relation to each restaurant, so they were not put at risk from the virus by travelling on public transport.

"We used The Bot Platform to survey everyone, grab their current postcodes and store them. We were then able to work out the distance and journey time between each person and every restaurant and come up with a league table of the closest people per restaurant, and a map of each person, their role, and every Honest," explained Wilson.

“As an operator, I can see where the restaurant is, how many people live by it, and we [looked at] walking and cycling patterns, and we chose to open restaurants based on that information."

She added that 300 people in its workforce have said they would be happy to come back to work, in the current environment. They were surveyed using the company’s preferred internal communications tool, Workplace from Facebook, and Wilson will explain more about the company’s usage of this technology in the pandemic in an in-depth Essential Retail interview later this week.

“They are on a burger heatmap to see where they live, and we have deployed teams within a ten to 15-minute trip to work,” Wilson noted, adding that staff returning to work is on a voluntary basis at present and operating safely is the “top concern”.

Honest Burgers’ return to business comes as several larger hospitality chains continue to explore reopening restaurants of their own. McDonald’s UK said it ran controlled tests, last week, with the view to opening 15 sites as delivery-only hubs on 13 May, in partnership with Uber Eats and JustEat.

[This article was updated on 6 May 20202 at 16:55 to reflect the fact no City Mapper data was used in Honest Burger’s bot platform].

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