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How Can Restaurant Owners Support their Staff During COVID-19?

June 08, 2020

Restaurant owners invest a great deal in their staff. At its core, a tightly knit crew can feel like family. COVID-19 continues to affect the livelihoods of restaurants and their employees, and many owners are asking how they can support their talented team during these difficult times.  

4 Ways to Assist Your Restaurant Employees

As restaurant owners know, keeping a well-trained staff enhances the customer experience and promotes high levels of teamwork. As restaurants cut hours, or temporarily shutter their doors, how can owners support and retain staff? 

Here are just a few resources to help care for your employees during the pandemic. Keep in mind, resources are always being updated, so restaurant owners should be sure to keep up to date.

1. Government Funded Small Business Loans

Authorized by the federally fundedCARES Act, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans can offer a crucial lifeline to independent restaurants and their workers. These forgivable payroll loans are designed to help small business and restaurant owners maintain their workforce, while temporarily taking the payroll burden off of the employer. 

Here's a quick overview of what you need to know:

  • Eligible restaurants must have 500 or fewer employees.
  • Loans can be up to 2.5 times payroll costs, up to $10 million, to be used over an eight-week period.
  • Funds must be used to retain workers; however, a portion of the loan can be used for utilities, rent, and mortgage costs.
  • Applications need to be submitted through a certified SBA lender.
  • PPP loans are eligible for forgiveness as long as the funds were used for the approved purposes.
  • Application for PPP loans opened on April 3, 2020 with $349 billion in available funds. Small business and restaurant owners rushed to apply for the much-needed funds, exhausting the original loan amounts. 
  • On April 24, 2020, the U.S. federal government passed an additional relief package of $484 billion, with $310 billion reserved for PPP loans. 

 2. Community-Based Funding

Community-based COVID-19 restaurant relief funds are popping up every day to help restaurant workers and owners. Some restaurant owners have even taken it upon themselves to raise funds for staff. 

If you are looking for some creative funding ideas here are a few suggestions:

  • Organize a relief fund through GoFundMe, Facebook, or Fundly for your team. Be sure to vet the many options available. OpenTable supplies helpful tips.
  • Set up a grocery store for your employees, like Mei Mei's Emergency Grocery Program in Boston.
  • Donate a portion of gift card sales to your employees. 
  • Create a virtual raffle with proceeds going to your staff. You can include anything from merchandise, to gift cards, to a future reservation as prizes. 

3. Provide Health Resources

Providing health resources is an important way to support your staff during the pandemic. It is estimated that four out of five restaurant workers do not have access to paid sick days. Some might choose to come to work when ill rather than risk losing hours, contributing to the spread of the virus. Those who decide to stay home can experience a significant loss in income. 

As restaurant owner, there are a few ways you can give your staff some peace of mind in this trying time:

  • Implement a paid sick leave program to help ensure sick workers stay home. Paid sick leave also has long-lasting benefits, like employee longevity and increased productivity. 
  • Employees who test positive for COVID-19 might be eligible to collect sick pay via the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and/or Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Research both acts to determine if your restaurant is subject to new FMLA laws. 
  • Don't require a doctor's note from an employee who calls in sick. A trip to the doctor's office can be costly if the employee doesn't have health insurance. If the employee's symptoms are mild, a visit to the doctor may not be necessary, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  
  • Promote mental health. A global pandemic can cause increased feelings of stress and anxiety. To help, foster a positive and caring workplace, consider purchasing a mental wellness app for your employees and share mental health resources

4. Promote Safe Working Conditions

Food safety and kitchen hygiene practices have always been a priority for restaurants. With COVID-19 still a threat, workplace sanitation is paramount. To keep your crew and customers safe, implement high levels of cleaning practices. Follow CDC guidelines to implement COVID-19 sanitation protocols and communicate procedures to your staff. Be sure to keep your employees in the loop with any updates to protocols. 

US FOODS CHEF'STORE is Committed to Growing Lasting Partnerships with Restaurants

At CHEF'STORE we are dedicated to serving and supporting our restaurant community. Over the 60 years we have been in business, we've seen a lot of changes in the restaurant industry, but one thing remains a constant: resiliency. Now, and in the future, we will continue to support our strong community and place our customers first.

To keep customers safe and save them time shopping, we offer Click&Carry. We also offer delivery via Instacart and Shipt. Set up an account, place your order online, and pick-up at your convenience. 

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COVID-19 Resources For Restaurant Workers

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