Your 5-Step Plan for Reopening Your Restaurant After a Coronavirus Lockdown
As states across the country allow restaurants to open their doors, reopening your restaurant after the Coronavirus lockdown can seem like a daunting task. New CDC guidelines require changes to layouts and processes that you and your staff will need to prepare for. That can be a lot to tackle!
Fortunately, there are numerous resources designed to guide you to a safe and successful reopen. The National Restaurant Association collaborated with representatives from the FDA and other public health officials to release a set of opening and operating guidelines that you can download here.
To help you during this challenging and uncertain time, we’ve compiled 5 key steps that will help your reopening go smoothly and safely.
1. Update Floor Plans
Social distancing guidelines are becoming the new norm, so restaurant layouts will need to adjust accordingly. Before you open, it’s important to update your restaurant floor plan to adhere to CDC Guidelines and those by your state or county.
Across the board, you’ll see restaurants taking steps to prevent large groups of people from congregating in small areas. Adjusting the layout of your waiting area into a single file line and marking X’s on the floor for people to stand on will help keep your customers the recommended distance (6ft) from each other as they wait for their tables.
In addition, you can change your furniture to maintain safe distances and create separation for each dining party. Eliminating some tables and chairs from your layout will give you space to relocate other table setups to safely space them apart. Adding Plexiglas partitions to host stands and barriers on booth seating will create separation that will benefit guests and employees.
Outdoor seating areas such as patios, courtyards, porches, or sidewalk areas will play an important role at restaurants this season. With tables placed at least 6 feet apart, this option will accommodate more customers in a safe, open space. We provide a large selection of low-maintenance outdoor restaurant furniture that will provide functionality and beautiful design to your outdoor dining space.
2. Create a Thorough Cleaning Plan
Effectively cleaning your restaurant is a key factor in ensuring the health and safety of both your staff and guests. As you establish a thorough cleaning and disinfecting plan, be sure to train your employees to maintain a high standard as they execute this plan.
Disinfecting the tables, chairs, and any reusable item (such as menus, condiments, etc.) after each dining party should be an important part of your action plan. Although this might take more time than your typical cleaning process, it’s worth it! Your guests will see this dedication and be thankful for the efforts your staff is making to prevent the spread of germs and illness.
You can also add sanitizing stations throughout your restaurant for both staff and customers as part of an effective cleaning plan. These touchless stations accompanied by signage will be a convenient and effective way to maintain cleanliness.
3. Educate and Train Employees
As you reopen, your staff will work on the front lines, interacting with customers and implementing new procedures. For a seamless transition to this new way of life, keeping your employees informed and knowledgeable is essential.
Hold weekly training sessions on the “how” and “why” to help them understand the purpose of their new work, so they’re able to answer any questions that customers have. Educate your staff on handwashing, social distancing, and disinfecting techniques, as well as how to limit contact with guests while they perform their duties.
While the FDA directs that the person in charge during open hours has an up-to-date ServSafe Food Manager Certification, providing your entire staff with ServSafe food handler training could be extremely beneficial. This training will help better inform your staff on food safety, which will allow them to maintain healthy, safe standards. After all, knowledge is power!
4. Reevaluate Restaurant Procedures
Before your restaurant is ready to open its doors, you’ll want to take a close look at your current procedures. Examine how guests check in, view menus, and pay at your restaurant. Challenge yourself and your restaurant staff to be creative and brainstorm new ways to do all of this while limiting contact.
In this instance, technology is your best friend! Utilizing online platforms will make many of these processes contactless. An online reservation and check-in service, menu tablets, mobile ordering, and online payments are methods your restaurant can implement to eliminate contact that potentially spreads germs.
5. Communication is Key
Perhaps the most important factor in safely and successfully reopening your restaurant during this unprecedented time is communication. Your staff and customers should stay informed on any changes that you make in your restaurant and know why. The health of both employees and customers is of the utmost concern, and it’s important for them to fully understand that the changes are made with that in mind.
Through social media, you can keep customers virtually updated on changes with your restaurant. Use your website to post these updates as well, and keep an updated version of your menu easily accessible. Create signage throughout your establishment that encourages social distancing and use of the sanitizing stations, while thanking guests for their understanding and cooperation.
To safely and successfully reopen your restaurant during this time, it’s crucial to stay informed on the latest research and guidelines released by the CDC. Restaurant.org/COVID19 offers up-to-date information and FAQs for the restaurant industry that are useful research tools, as well as the comprehensive reopening guide released by the NRA.
Our support at East Coast Chair & Barstool goes out to restaurants affected by this pandemic, and we hope that this 5-step guide to reopening your restaurant after the lockdown will help assist you in having a safe and successful reopen.
Click here to view an up-to-date list of states allowing restaurants to reopen.