With countless businesses across the country having shut down due to the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, there’s no doubt your restaurant has been affected, too.
But now that some states are allowing phased reopenings for businesses like restaurants, you’re probably wondering what’s the best way to return to normal operations without further negatively impacting your business.
To give you a boost, here are 5 tips you should follow when re-opening your restaurant according to state and federal guidelines. With these tips in mind, you can make your transition to post-pandemic food service simpler and safer.
Probably the most important thing you need to ensure when returning to servicing guests in your restaurant is that you and your staff are all following strict and thorough sanitation measures. Local and federal governments have been clear that implementing more stringent cleaning practices is one of the primary ways the food service industry can inhibit further spread of coronavirus.
This includes making sure that all the sanitizing products you use meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2. You should also require that staff sanitize all food contact surfaces, food prep surfaces, and beverage equipment before and after each use. You should also sanitize any other high-touch areas such as glass food display cases, your POS systems, and dining tables.
Further, it’s a wise idea to print disposable menus rather than hand out your regular reusable menus. Any dispensers, utensils, napkins, or other products previously set out for customers in your lobby should be held behind the counter and given out by a staff member as requested.
Having clear policies that outlines these cleaning practices will help make sure your staff is consistently keeping up with proper sanitation measures.
In addition to implementing sanitation measures for your food service environment, you should also have strict and clear cleanliness policies in place for your employees.
First of all, ensure that all employees are wearing necessary protective equipment and clothing, including face masks and gloves. For kitchen staff, they should continue to wear hair nets and other protective clothing in addition to face masks and gloves.
Staff should also be required to wash their hands frequently—for example, once every hour—as well as replace gloves after each handling use. Other measures, such as placing plastic coverings between your staff members and guests at POS machines, may also be necessary.
You will likely also need to implement new policies that customers will be required to follow, and these should be clearly communicated to each customer.
For example, if masks are required to enter your restaurant, you should have clear signs outside each entry to ensure this policy is understood. Be sure to clearly communicate that any guests experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should not enter your restaurant. If your bathrooms or drinking fountains are closed, place signs nearby explaining the closures.
You may also want to inform customers of the new rules your staff are following, just to let your guests know how seriously you are taking keeping your restaurant clean. Explain on your website and on signs in your establishment the changes you’re making in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines.
One of the most critical ways you can limit the spread of coronavirus through employees and customers is by practicing social distancing.
Some wise practices include closing off every other table, creating more space between the tables you do use, and limiting the number of people you allow into the restaurant at any one time. You should also be sure your lobby seating accommodates best social distancing practices, such as waiting area seating separated by at least six feet of distance.
On top of keeping your restaurant clean and safe for guests and employees, it’s imperative that you take advantage of tools that can help you keep orders flowing without inhibiting safe social distancing or gathering guidelines.
One tool that is helping restaurants nationwide is digital ordering technology such as ToGo. ToGo is a restaurant e-commerce platform that allows customers to order directly from a custom mobile app or website designed for the restaurant.
This platform can be integrated into your current POS systems, allowing you to keep order rates high and improve business growth while also making the experience safer and more hygienic for everyone by letting them order online. This technology can even be automated to let staff know when customers have arrived, so that you can bring their order directly to their car without them having to enter the lobby.
With these tips in mind, you can make re-opening your restaurant a simple and seamless process, offering the best service that you can to your customers while still staying safe and hygienic. No matter how much strife the pandemic may have caused your business, there’s a way to quickly and simply get back to your normal operations without further negative impacts.
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