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7 Social Distancing Tips For Restaurants

February 02, 2021

As states navigate reopening strategies for restaurants, one thing is for sure: physical distancing is here to stay awhile longer. While we are all doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19, restaurants with strong social distancing plans are sure to stand out. To keep patrons and staff safe during this pandemic, social distancing policies are essential. 

Creative Ways To Enhance Your Restaurant While Following Social Distancing Guidelines

Having a solid safety plan and savvy social distancing strategies are critical to restaurant success in 2021 and beyond. Looking for ways to implement social distancing at your restaurant? We’ve rounded up a few ideas. 

1. Increase Outdoor Dining Space

Who doesn’t love dining alfresco? One way to increase the safety of your guests and employees is to up your outdoor seating

Increase outdoor dining space.

While not every restaurant has a perfect patio, there are some creative solutions to help you make the most out of outdoor opportunities:

When designing your outdoor dining space, have a plan to keep your patio open for as many months as possible. If your area is prone to brisk autumns or chilly winters, consider warming solutions like patio heaters and tabletop fire pits. 

Some establishments are turning to enclosed dining pods to keep patrons warm and dry. However, there has been much debate as to their overall safety. Having poor ventilation and requiring aggressive cleaning between guests could make outdoor, enclosed pods a less-than-ideal choice for restaurant owners. 

2. Utilize Clear Dividers 

For a sleek, modern way to encourage social distancing, clear room dividers are a fantastic option. They are easy to clean, see-through, and can be found in various sizes and types. Place them between tables, suspend them from the ceiling, or use them along bars and communal tables. While these barriers reduce exposure, you have to make sure you utilize them properly and sanitize them between each party.

3. Promote Pre-Orders 

Decrease potential exposure time and turn tables more efficiently with pre-order options. Encourage customers to place orders before arrival so that their food is ready when they arrive. There are plenty of apps and software to help make the ordering process effortless. 

4. Post Signage and Easy to Follow Safety Guidelines 

Every restaurant layout is different, and safety protocols vary from state to state, even county to county. To assist your customer in navigating your eatery’s policies, have prominent signage and social distancing markers throughout your establishment. 

Directions to include are:

  • Mask policies
  • Entrance and exit flow
  • Sanitation guidelines
  • Ordering practices

Be sure to include your safety procedures on your website and social media pages. 

5. Separate Walk-Up Window for Takeout

If your restaurant offers to-go meals, consider adding a dedicated walk-up window for takeout orders. This will restrict the number of people waiting inside and can help quickly streamline the pickup process. 

Add a walk up window for takeout orders.

6. Assign Seating 

Ensure guests are following distancing guidelines by assigning seats. When guests make a reservation, designate at which table they will be dining. This works for patio, indoor, and even bar seats

7. Bring Some Levity to Social Distancing 

It’s ok (and even appreciated) to add a little whimsy to social distancing regulations. Some restaurants place mannequins in off-limits seats. A cafe in Germany crafted pool-noodle hats to help guests maintain distance. Get creative and develop your own playful and safe ways to promote physically distanced dining. 

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