It goes without saying that the majority of us are ready to socialize again. We want to wine and dine. We miss attending parties, weddings, and special events. Above all, we miss going to a restaurant or bar and having that social interaction. Great food. Good beer. Good company. What’s not to love about getting out of the house for an evening? As the economy begins to reopen, consider what to expect when restaurants reopen during COVID-19.
Expect a Change in Restaurant Operations Look and Feel
The restaurant community is clearly rallying together. A significant fear came from shuttering restaurants. However, without question, there’s a significant demand for restaurants. Meanwhile, curbside and takeout orders continued. Customers wanted their cocktails to-go and they wanted to support their communities. The desire and demand still exists. This says a great deal about the restaurant industry. Resilience.
When you walk into your favorite pizza joint, chances are, you will not see the usual ebb and flow of management. The way you order food may be different. Even more, the menu and how you order may vary. Will it be different, yes. Enter the restaurant with an open mind. This is a learning curve for everyone, but it shouldn’t affect your overall experience.
Georgia was the first state to open back up. Now, and with probable cause, we are closely monitoring what this means in terms of the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Yet, we have also seen that with states slowly opening, we are also feeling the pressure of how to manage our restaurants to attract customers. On the whole, restaurants are struggling financially and so, opening their doors and getting customers back is also a dream-come-true.
More states are following Georgia’s footsteps and what to expect when these restaurants open is not clear. However, you can expect a change in the look and feel of your favorite steakhouse as it relates to COVID-19 expectations.
Change is the only constant. There’s been a radical change in the restaurant industry as the economy and restaurants begin to open. A heightened sense of awareness and cleanliness will be in place. Now, there are policies and best practices that restaurant owners will have to follow to operate. Think of this as something to add to the customer experience. Implement the below to ensure a smooth reopening of your restaurant:
- Conduct wellness checks with your employees.
- Take the temperatures of employees before they enter the kitchen/restaurant. Designate a person to take temperatures and provide that individual with PPE (proper protective equipment)
- Continue to follow state and health guidelines for restaurant operations and increase frequency of cleaning
- Remind staff who are sick to stay home
- Check your restrooms frequently for cleanliness and replace supplies before they run out
- Reinforce your current glove policy to include the use when handling and preparing food
- Setup hands-free hand-sanitizer stations throughout the restaurant for staff and guests to use
- Incorporate contactless methods where appropriate
Consequently, restaurant operations are going to be different. As a result, go above and beyond to ensure your customers receive optimal service. Follow State and health guidelines. Train your new and existing staff on the new policies. Set high standards. Focus on your high touch-point areas.
High touch-point areas include: doorknobs, railings, switches, faucets, restrooms, chairs, and POS (point of sale) screens.
For tables, it’s important to practice sanitation after disinfecting – EPA guidelines.
It takes a couple of minutes to do what we’re doing, which is sanitizing booth backs, table tops, etc., To make sure everyone feels completely comfortable – John Metz, CEO Marlow’s Tavern
Compartmentalization and Accountability and Trust
Consider consumer expectations. For example, a bartender who is used to handling money, can no longer handle money and then touch a glass. You cannot afford another outbreak within your business.
First and foremost, money is dirty. We want to see money coming in, but consequently, it’s also a piece of paper bacteria. Even more than that, you have to consider the bar model. Trust comes before the product. Rebuilding that trust factor with customers is an expectation as restaurants reopen post COVID-19.
In the end, most of these changes needed to happen. Whether COVID-19 wiped 8 million of it’s restaurant employees out or not. Having a pivot portfolio in addition to making COVID-19 precautions is another problem-solving technique to keep in mind.
In terms of compartmentalization, I am talking about modeling. In the FOH, you’re going to have to designate a food-runner. The old-diner model may make comeback. Having one person handle money, food, etc., Thinking about what you want to create on the other side, as a result, will level you up for success.
These are all of the things a restaurant owner needs to consider. Of course, the model will evolve. What a customer saw pre-COVID will be much different the next time they enter your restaurant. The key is to make their experience as “normal” as possible while also covering your assets.
If you want to protect your business, you need to be overly mindful and take necessary precautions. Customers will not find a case of COVID attractive. Your image and what you once stood for, you will now need to adapt and mold to appease and attract customers.
Trust Expectation When Restaurants Reopen
Your customers need you to build back the trust that the virus took away. If anything, this woke a lot of restaurant operators up. This pandemic should give restaurant operators the opportunity to see where, exactly their strengths and weakness’s are. Showing your customers you value their health is good way to bring them into your restaurant and is what they would expect as restaurants reopen during COVID-19.
What to expect when restaurants reopen during COVID-19 is reasonably not entirely known. For restaurant owners, the way you operate will be different. For the customer, your experience will be different. However, in sum, each and every moment is as good as you make it. This goes for the restaurant owner in how they choose to operate. This also goes for the customer in how they choose to accept these changes. Thus, stay positive. The heart of our economy is the restaurant industry. Think of this time as more of a reset. In due time, we will all be holding a craft brew, celebrating surviving and thriving. Cheers.