How to Reopen your Restaurant After COVID-19 The Right Way
States all over the country are working on reopening the economy and are preparing the rules for restaurants to reopen, and as anxious as they are to do so – it needs to be done RIGHT. The most important thing restaurants have to do right now is to earn back the TRUST of their customers. Any additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 that are attributed to a restaurant are going to set the industry back even further. Operating a restaurant under normal circumstances is difficult enough as it is, and the first businesses to open back up after the quarantine is going to have to set a whole new standard for customer and employee safety. Any business that opens back up is going to be under a microscope as consumers are still worried about the potential for a second wave of COVID-19 outbreak.
Just like there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for running a restaurant, there is no single solution for how you should go about re-opening. For the businesses that have been open through the quarantine to this point, cleaning standards have already been heightened. That was step 1 in a lot of cases, but your customers need to know that those standards aren’t going to be diminished as the volume of business increases.
1. Create New Cleaning Procedures
The first step in preparing to re-open is making sure that you have your enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures nailed down and are second nature to your employees.
Train your Employees
Make sure your employees know and understand the new procedures. Not only HOW to do them, but WHY.
Explain the new Procedures to your Suppliers and Vendors
Work with your suppliers and vendors to let them know any cleaning procedures that may affect your daily operations. For instance, different operating hours or limitations in access. Everyone that enters your restaurant locations is someone you have to keep safe.
Supplement Daily Cleaning with Thorough, Professional Sanitizing
Including a weekly professional decontamination service to your cleaning routine is the best way to truly keep your restaurants clean and safe. Quest offers complete, professional, and effective decontamination services coast-to-coast that use the Center for Disease Control recommended and EPA-approved disinfectants to kill the virus on contact.
Implement Touchless Ordering
If your restaurant has an app-based ordering system, offer discounts for its use. Also, upgrading your point-of-sale equipment to offer apple pay or other similar payment options can reduce the high-touch payment equipment currently in use.
Implement Physical Distancing
The CDC recommends social distancing of at least 6 feet, and that same practice can be implemented in your dining areas. Most states that are re-opening businesses are still requiring limited occupancy, so take advantage of that empty space by moving tables further apart. Again, this makes customers FEEL more comfortable. In situations where your restaurant has a waiting line, make use of text messages or an app to let people know that their table is ready so that they can wait without being bunched up. Keeping the bar area closed in your restaurant is another way to keep patrons from gathering too closely. All of these changes are simple enough and don’t require any additional investment. Taking these suggestions one step further would be to invest in plexiglass dividers to go between booths, depending on how your restaurant locations are set up.
2. Make Your New Procedures Immediately Visible
Having new procedures in place is only half of the battle. To really show your customers that safety is your top priority, they need to SEE the changes.
Make sure your employees are always wearing masks and gloves. This is the easiest way to show your customers that you’re operating with their safety in mind.
Offer Hand Sanitizer Stations
Having hand sanitizer stations throughout your restaurant is not only a great way to help reduce the chances of spreading COVID-19 but also puts consumers at ease. From touch-less, wall-mounted sanitizer stations near doors and in bathrooms, to having a hand-pump bottle on each table – providing something that simple can go a long way toward re-establishing trust with customers.
Advertise your Procedures
The final step to reopening your restaurant after COVID-19 the right way all these new procedures is to share them with your customers. Make your cleaning procedures and decontamination schedule plainly visible. Trust is the one thing that restaurants really need to focus on right now. Nothing builds that trust like showing people what you’re ACTUALLY doing to keep them safe.
The national Restaurant association set out a general set of guidelines that are a good start. You can also download this Restaurant Sanitizing Procedures Checklist to help you design your restaurant’s cleaning protocols. Finally, you may want to check out these playbooks by restaurant operators in Asia that highlight detailed cleaning and operating protocols that kept their restaurants virus-free, open, safe for workers and consumers.