Restaurants are a major part of the global economy and integral to our communities. Social distancing measures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak have left many restaurant owners feeling helpless. Here are some ideas that may be useful as operators consider ways to handle this disruption—which may last for many weeks or months.
- Focus on community health as first priority.
- Enable online and phone orders for quick pickup as a first choice, or local delivery as a second choice.
- Streamline pickup at restaurant by placing prepared, bagged, and labeled orders on a shelf accessible to customers, to minimize human contact.
- Encourage (or require) bulk purchasing, so that people buy multiple prepared meals at a time. A limited and focused menu may make this easier.
- Ensure anyone who is symptomatic or has fever goes home and stays home.
- Enforce proper hygiene by all front and back staff (hand-washing, masks, gloves etc).
- Make it easy to order gift certificates online, possibly even from multiple participating local restaurants, in a central location,
- Remember, you will need healthy customers on the other end of this to ensure the longevity of your business. Demonstrate to customers with each step of your process that their health and safety is your first priority.
- Ask front-of-house employees if they want to help out with contactless deliveries (keeping a safe distance of 2M) to regulars. Be sure to tell customers that they will be the ones making the deliveries — the human touch will yield goodwill and tips, short and long term!
- Consider picking days of week to focus on, and stay closed on other days. Coordinate with other area restaurants, and promote multiple businesses while limiting expenses.
These ideas are just the beginning— brainstorm with others in your community. Many operators are struggling to think through what this new world means, so talk with them. While some countries and cities have closed restaurants entirely, and others have transitioned to take-out, these kind of thoughtful responses may be a good way to manage health concerns while also making it possible for small businesses to survive during a difficult time.
Most of all, put your community’s health first—they will thank you for it. Pandemic shalom, et bonne chance! We are rooting for you.
Have ideas of your own to share? Leave a response! We’d love to hear your thoughts.