As restaurants in some parts of the world gear up for a ‘new normal’, it’s daunting to throw open the doors again. Are you doing the right thing for your staff and customers?Do you have a proper plan for reopening your restaurant in place? It’s key to take your time, and be prepared. Make sure to check official regulations for your city, but these guidelines from the US National Restaurant Association cover social distancing and health and safety. We’ve also included some practical tips from Hong Kong hospitality group Blacksheep Restaurants, who released advice on how to update your menu, support staff and more.
Guidelines for Reopening Your Restaurant
1. Social Distancing & Table Plans
Update floor plans for common dining areas, redesigning seating arrangements to ensure at least six feet of separation between table setups. Limit party size at tables to no more than the established “maximums approved” as recommended by CDC or approved by local and state government.
Where practical, especially in booth seating, physical barriers can work well. You could also consider a reservations-only business model or call-ahead seating.
2. Separate Your Teams
If you have a larger staff, you should consider splitting all your teams in two and scheduling so that the As and the Bs do not interact in-person, in or outside of work. This limits the impact so if someone on the As becomes ill and the rest of the As need to self-isolate, hopefully, the Bs can still keep working!
3. Clean, Clean, Clean!
Thoroughly detail-clean and sanitize the entire venue, especially if it has been closed. Focus on high-contact areas that would be touched by both employees and guests. Do not overlook seldom touched surfaces. Between seatings, clean and sanitize table condiments, digital ordering devices, menus, check presenters, self-service areas, tabletops, and common touch areas.
4. Manage Your Menu
If you’re doing takeaway/delivery, don’t offer the full menu. Test which of your dishes travel well and if they don’t, don’t offer them. For dine in, it can help with costs (and hygiene) to get rid of any buffet options. Open with a smaller menu option to help with food cost and wastage. Eliminate raw proteins, specials and lowest selling menu items.
5. Communicate Honestly & Transparently with Guests
This is hugely important, and now more than ever. Keep communicating on all steps of reopening with guests, sharing the extra steps you are taking to reopen in a safe and responsible manner. If by any chance a staff member gets infected with Covid-19, let guests who have dined in the past 14 days know. Close for a deep sanitize, and self-isolate the whole team. Blacksheep Restaurants have a great example of how to communicate this:
6. Reach Out to Suppliers
Have open and honest conversations with suppliers, vendors and landlords about the possibility of discounts or pushing back payments. Do not ignore them or they will think you are going out of business. Ask for some slack as you try to get back on your feet.
7. Ask for Guest Details
This is good practice to be able to contact guests incase of any outbreaks. Ask all guests who dine-in to fill out a simple contact form. You can give your front-of-house team a line to explain to guests why it is necessary, e.g.: “With the sudden global spread of the virus we are trying our best to keep our community safe and are asking everyone to provide contact details just incase.”