Gold napkins, classical music, and hand sanitizer at the door: Researchers on how restaurants can lure back diners

Restaurants hoping to lure pandemic-weary diners back are relying on a variety of psychological tricks grounded in researchThe Wall Street Journal reports. One counterintuitive recommendation: Get rid of hand sanitizer on the table. (You don’t want to remind people of Covid-19 during the meal. Instead, leave a discreet dispenser at the entrance.) One professor suggests dividing the dining area into two sections, kind of like the smoking and nonsmoking areas in restaurants of yore. Those who prefer a less crowded experience can opt for an airier, distanced dining room, while diners who are “making up” for time lost to the pandemic can sit in tightly packed spaces. Some of the tricks are more about sales than safety. Dim lighting can encourage indulgence in dessert and extra drinks, and classical music may increase wine sales. And when all else fails, there’s always gold: One study found that diners tipped 2.6 percent more when the check was presented in a gold folder in place of the classic black.