What Does Your Restaurant Reopening Landscape Look Like?

What Does Your Restaurant Reopening Landscape Look Like?

The rules will be different everywhere, but thinking ahead is essential.

How should restaurants reopen in a world that looks nothing like it did just two months ago? As operators in some parts of the country get the green light on dining in, the answer is murky.

A lot depends on state and local guidelines that cover everything from opening to occupancy to social distancing and sanitation. Here is some guidance to help you understand:

WHO can tell me when it’s OK to reopen?

Look to your state’s governor first. In mid-April, the White House issued Opening Up America Again guidelines. It was a three-phased approach that called on state governors to work with public health experts to decide on reopening. In some places, city or county governments may issue additional rules.

WHEN will customers be able to sit at my tables?

It depends on your location. Every state is different. Georgia and Tennessee allowed restaurants to reopen during the last week of April. A handful of states lifted bans on dine-in eating May 1, and still others will follow May 4. Meanwhile, some states have extended stay-home orders for residents until mid- or late May, and this will affect business openings.

WHAT dine-in rules might I face?

Again, the rules won’t be the same for every restaurant. State governments and local health officials have policymaking authority. Your local restaurant association can provide clarity. Some possible safety measures include:

  • Temperature checks at the entrance
  • Restricted seating capacity (50% or less)
  • No parties larger than 6 people
  • Social distancing between guests and tables
  • All guests may need masks (employees may need masks and gloves)

WHERE should I start?

Restrictions will touch every area of your business, and there’s no area more important right now than cleanliness and safety. Welcome guests to break quarantine and feel comfortable:

  • Deep clean and sanitize regularly (guests will be comforted seeing spray bottles and wipes) 
  • Train your staff on regulations
  • Communicate your enhanced procedures and commitment to health and safety
  • Make masks available
  • Have hand sanitizer available

HOW will this affect my business?

A lot depends on the type of restaurant you run. Fast-casual restaurants will have different challenges than fine dining. Some considerations:

  • Right-size your menu by limiting core items
  • Decide the role takeout/delivery will play
  • Utilize patio or sidewalk seating to allow social distancing
  • Think about using counter service instead of table service
  • Utilize food trucks to encourage social distancing and supplement takeout needs
  • Replace communal condiment containers with single-use packets

ARE the precautions worth it?

The new normal will look abnormal for a while. The health and safety of your guests and staff are vital. Knowing the rules, best practices, and creating a plan gets your restaurant ready and allows you to adjust as time goes on. 

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