How To Safely Reopen Your Restaurant

At the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, restaurants closed their dining room doors, leading to an opening of takeout and delivery. From gift cards to GoFundMe accounts, restaurants are continuing to fight to survive. And now, the country is starting to reopen safely, and states are beginning to lift their stay at home orders.

As a result, restaurants are preparing to reopen their dining rooms. Many patrons are wary about their health and safety, and restaurants must be cognizant of that when reopening.

There are a plethora of issues to consider, and we are going to go over how to prepare for reopening, as well as marketing tactics to consider while doing so.

Increase Operational Efficiencies

Restaurant unemployment rate is one of the highest of total national unemployment. Your restaurant may be experiencing limited staff at the moment, and you may be unable to hire most of your team back immediately.

An operational efficiency to consider improving is time management. If your restaurant didn’t require reservations before the pandemic, now would be a good time to implement them. Requiring reservations enables your restaurant to better plan for how many staff members and how much inventory you’ll need.

There are third party reservation apps that can help your business with managing reservations. OpenTable is a great option, and just recently added bars to its platform, which will help with potential overcrowding issues on weekend nights.

Another solution for time management that doubles as a health and safety measure is creating a communication board in-house. By implementing this new process, employees and managers can communicate more efficiently while also decreasing contact points.

Put your health and safety efforts front and center

Updating and increasing your safety and cleaning protocols are obvious at this point, but you must make it clear to your customers. Don’t assume they will take your word for it.

There are a plethora of health and safety guidelines that you can use as a reference. But the most important to implement is your sanitization efforts. Here are a few things to consider putting into action when reopening:

  • Install sanitization stations throughout your restaurant. These stations should be set up at your entrance, bathrooms, and throughout the back of the house.
  • Provide your employees with masks and gloves. Make the usage of PPE mandatory for the staff.
  • Consider contactless payment. Contactless payment should already be implemented if you’re open for takeout and delivery. For your dine-in patrons, if possible, offer the option for contactless payment with QR code technology.
    • A QR code is a code that is printed on the check. Customers can scan the code with their phone camera, which pulls up a web page for payment via credit or debit.
  • Schedule a weekly deep-cleaning during closing hours. Pay special attention to high-touch points such as doorknobs, light switches, etc.

Continue to stay open for takeout and delivery

While you may be open for dine-in, there are still going to be difficulties you will face, which include capacity restrictions and diners’ behaviors in the “new normal.”

Takeout and delivery were popular before the pandemic and will remain popular thereafter. Continue to offer takeout and delivery, and consider special offers and discounts.

Get creative with your takeout menu. Promote meal kits, family meals, wholesale ingredients, etc. Consider selling easy frozen meals for customers to heat up and enjoy. For more innovative ideas, see here.

Be active on social media

Although the world is socially distancing, we can still stay connected with the wonderful world of social media. Keep in contact with your customers. Let them know every action you’re taking to protect their health and safety. Promote your specials. Announce new deals. Maybe even consider a giveaway!

There is a multitude of creative ways to stay active on social media and engage with your audience. It’s essential to increase awareness and engagement, especially during times of social distancing.

For more ideas on how you can use social media to help your restaurant, see here

Bottom line

Keep in mind the “new normal” after states reopen, and your restaurant is permitted to welcome back customers. Although it is a long road ahead, there are many actions you can take to stay afloat and weather this storm. Remain committed to increasing your health and safety measures and staying in touch with your customers.