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What Should You Know Before Reopening Your Restaurant?

October 20, 2020

With so many changes concerning when and how restaurants can reopen, restaurateurs are finding they have to pivot to stay profitable. Our restaurant food suppliers share industry tips on what you need to know before reopening your restaurant. 

4 Best Practices for Reopening Your Restaurant

Every restaurant is unique and will need to create an opening plan that works for their establishment. However, there are some standard strategies that are useful to any restaurant owner planning their reopening. 

1) Stay Informed on State and City Reopening Guidelines

Staying up-to-date on your state and city regulations is crucial to a successful reopening strategy. Bear in mind that guidelines aren't static and often fluctuate depending on COVID-19 reports. Consistent reports of high coronavirus cases could cause your county to enforce stricter policies or reverse reopenings. That's why it's essential to stay abreast of critical reopening guidelines at all times. 

For example:

  • Capacity limits. Each state has developed allowable dine-in capacities for restaurants. Depending on your location, this number is determined based on a maximum capacity percentage, layout with six feet distancing, or both.
  • Service styles. Some states, like Oregon, have barred particular service styles like self-serve buffets. Check with your area's guidelines to make sure your menu and service reflect your state's requirements.
  • Phase guidelines. Stay on top of your state's reopening phases and pay close attention to the phase pertaining to your county. Don't rely on other establishments' practices to inform your own. Since reopening stages are based on various factors, your neighboring county could be in a different phase than yours. 

Always have a Plan B and even a Plan C in case regulations change. Have a pivoting strategy in place should restrictions tighten up. For example, if in-house dining is suddenly put on hold, maybe you can recoup revenue with to-go liquor sales? Restaurants are also expanding their offerings to include meal kits, online cooking lessons and wine tastings, and meal subscriptions. 

2) Redesign Your Restaurant Layout for Safety

Dining during COVID-19 is considerably different than it was in the past. Before you reopen, make sure your restaurant takes into consideration all aspects of sanitation and safety. An excellent place to start for information on a safe reopening is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You will find safety and sanitation information, downloadable fact sheets to post around your restaurant, and more. 

Your state and city health authority will likely have more specific guidelines required for your area, so be sure to research those thoroughly. 

With your team, diligently walk through every aspect of service and think about what will need to change. 

Here are a few questions to ask yourself concerning service:

  • Can guests and staff safely social distance at all times?
  • Do you need to install barriers at host stands or at the bar to prevent contact between guests and employees?
  • What will your in-house sanitation protocols look like and who is in charge of overseeing them?
  • Can you repurpose your parking lot and sidewalks to create more open-air dining?

How you choose to reconfigure your restaurant layout and update service protocols will depend on your region's guidelines and the type of establishment you own. However, a good rule of thumb is to think about ways to limit contact between people and reduce common areas. If you're feeling overwhelmed with all you need to accomplish, it's a good idea to utilize new technologies to help you streamline some of your operations. 

3) Change Up Your Menu

You'll likely have to evaluate your existing menu and make strategic changes. Ideally, your menus should maximize efficiency and boost profits. Individual restaurants will approach menu changes in their own, unique ways; however, there are a few essential aspects every restaurant owner should keep in mind:

  • Streamline menu items to account for reduced labor and to simplify food prep.
  • Analyze your food cost and make sure to price dishes with profit in mind. Pay special attention to meat and seafood costs
  • Remain innovative in your menu concept and keep your customers' intrigued with bold flavors and seasonal products.

Don't forget to reconnect with your restaurant and bulk food supply store to check product availability and pricing before updating your menu. 

4) Communicate With Your Customers

Once you have your reopening plan in place, share the information with your customer base. Let them know about your safety practices, reservation policies, and social distancing protocols. You can also use this opportunity to market your reopening date and your revamped menu. 

Looking For Wholesale Restaurant Food Supplies for Your Reopening?

US Foods CHEF'STORE has been serving the culinary community for over 65 years. While COVID-19 has significantly impacted the restaurant industry, we are still here to provide top-quality products at competitive price points to our industry partners. 

Sign up for an account today and take immediate advantage of online shopping. Need grocery delivery services for your restaurant reopening? We work with reliable third-party companies to get your food delivered when you need it.

Find your local CHEF'STORE and get what you need at the prices you want. 

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