There’s a bright spot in all this bad news about COVID-19. Many communities are easing up on dining restrictions and allowing restaurants to open up indoor seating again. In New Jersey, many restaurants are gearing up for indoor customers, but many are proceeding with caution, just in case another wave of restrictions occurs.


Whether your community has given the green light to reopen indoor dining or you’re just formulating a plan for the future, here are some tips for making a smooth transition to serving customers in your dining room again.

Proceed With Caution

As New Jersey has shown us, green lights to reopen can be rescinded, leaving restaurants stuck with excess food, sending them back to the drawing board to serve customers. At Liv & Charlie’s Real Food Establishment in Lambertville, New Jersey, owners Nicole diLanzo and Eileen Hawk have decided to hold off on opening their dining room, even though they are now permitted to open at 25 percent capacity. They have opted instead to continue offering outdoor seating just in case size restrictions are brought back again in the near future.

Keep it Going With Takeout and Delivery Options

Are you already offering takeout, delivery, and outdoor seating? Maintaining these options despite dining room openings is a wise decision. Even though your dining room may be open, some customers still may not be ready to dine indoors just yet. Plus, if lockdowns are reinstated, you won’t have to go back to square one setting everything back up again.

Offer Reservations

If you didn’t offer reservations before, now is a great time to consider it, especially with dining room capacity restrictions. This will save your customers the disappointment of being turned away if your restaurant fills up quickly. At Matt’s Red Rooster Grill in Flemington, New Jersey they have added reservations due to the restaurant’s popularity, which is helping keep customers happy and allowing the restaurant to control the flow of patrons at any given time. Another option is to encourage customers to call ahead or get on a waitlist via telephone, so they don’t have to wait long to get a table when they arrive.

Be Flexible

No matter how you transition back into reopening your indoor dining, be prepared to be flexible and prepare yourself for the unknown, such as having to close your dining room again. Making some changes to how you serve customers will go a long way, even if they’re only temporary.