Tips for Reopening Your Restaurant During Covid-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic and associated social distancing requirements have created a whole new set of challenges for restaurants as they search for creative solutions to both remain profitable and satisfy the safety guidelines from health officials. Many businesses are having to reconfigure their dining and cooking spaces to make sure their business remains as safe as possible and prevents the spread of COVID-19.

With this redesign comes an opportunity to assess the quality and maintenance of your restaurant equipment, dining space, and operating processes, address any lingering problems, and replace any faulty equipment so that you are ready to hit the ground running as restrictions are lifted and operation resumes. Below are some areas of focus, as suggested by the National Restaurant Association, to help make sure you are compliant with ever-changing guidelines and ready for business when the time comes.

Social Distancing

Though requirements continue to change, and will vary by state and county, it’s just about guaranteed that when dining resumes, it will be required that restaurants keep a careful eye on capacity and customer spacing.

  • Keep floor plans updated, and create new layouts that allow 6 feet of spacing between parties. Make sure your maximum party size is compliant with local regulations.
  • If you work with third party delivery companies, make sure they are aware of your new operating regulations and requirements for entering your establishment. Post these new protocols in visible areas throughout your business.
  • Post signage at the entrance of your restaurant reminding all visitors that no one with a fever or COVID-19 symptoms is permitted.
  • Limit contact between wait staff and guests. Use mobile ordering and other technology when possible to limit contact of menus, limit interaction, etc.
  • Provide hand sanitizer for guests to use.
  • Design the restaurant layout in a way that discourages congregating in lobby or bar areas, or elsewhere in the restaurant. If needed, create signage or floor markings that clearly outline where patrons should wait to be seated, how they should move through the restaurant, etc.

Restaurant and Employee Hygiene

Both guests and employees will want to know that they are in a clean, safe space, and that the business is taking all possible measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

  • All employees who are sick, or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home. Create an honest, upfront work environment where employees do not feel that they need to hide symptoms.
  • Communicate any reported illnesses to your staff, and follow local and state guidelines for contact tracing and when said employee should return to work.
  • While PPE like masks and other face coverings may not be mandated in your state or county, it is a good idea to require employees to wear face coverings. Not only has this been shown to reduce the spread of the virus, but it will help patrons feel at ease knowing you are taking risk mitigation seriously.
  • Encourage increased hand washing and sanitizing, providing plenty of stations throughout the restaurant for workers to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer.

Food Safety

Food safety remains as important as ever during the pandemic.

  • Ensure that the person in charge of food preparation and storage is a certified food safety manager.
  • Ensure this person is on site any time food is being received, prepared or handled in any way.
  • Create new protocols for the increased cleaning and disinfecting of all surfaces in the establishment (especially high touch ones like door handles!), refrigerators, ovens, and other kitchen equipment.
  • Provide the same instructions for the back of house as you have for the front of house detailing new handwashing and PPE procedures, mask requirements and other preventative measures. Make sure these are clearly posted!

Click here to download the full guide from the National Restaurant Association.

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