How to Maintain Your Restaurant Business During the Coronavirus

How to Maintain Your Restaurant Business During the Coronavirus

Your tables sit empty, but you can still provide diners with your food.

When the restaurant industry first heard the words, “social distancing,” you could hear a collective sigh across the nation.

Other than the airline and hotel industries, restaurants are some of the hardest hit in these days of COVID-19. So, what are restaurants to do?

In this article, we look at how to maintain your restaurant business during the Coronavirus.

Safe Guard Your Food Preparation

If you’re lucky enough to still be open for pick-up and delivery orders, you still must take immense precautions with your food prep.

There would be nothing worse for a restaurant owner and staff than to know  their carelessness led to a customer getting sick.

Worth noting is that, according to the CDC, “Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.”

That being said, your staff can transmit the virus through face-to-face contact in pick-up and delivery situations. In addition, if your staff touches the to-go containers with an ungloved hand, they can transmit the virus this way.

So, practice enhanced hygiene practices with your staff, both in the back and front of the house to cut down on the chance of transmission.

Start a Subscription Service

Some restaurants are really thinking outside the box.

Taking a nod from traditional food subscription services like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron, restaurant businesses across the world are getting creative.

How might this work for you? You offer a weekly subscription service to your customers. You can send this information out through your email lists, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, and posting it on your website.

It might look like this:

  • Customers can sign up to have their favorite appetizers, entrees, and desserts delivered to their home on a specific day each week.
  • Or, because you have a large menu, they could sign up to have pizza delivered on Monday, soup and salad delivered on Tuesday, chicken fried steak delivered on Wednesday, and so on.
  • You can offer a discount based on how many days they choose to subscribe with you.
  • For states like Kansas that just made it legal for restaurant to send beer and liquor home with patrons, you might even consider liquor as part of your subscription packages.

Doing this allows your back-of-house staff to keep their jobs because you need them to cook the food. You can then use your front-of-house staff to pack the delivery orders and deliver them touch-free to customers.

Offer Take-Out and Delivery

While take-out and delivery options aren’t going to sustain the restaurant business for the long haul, they may very well keep them afloat in the short term.

And, these options will give more of your team members an opportunity to stay on your payroll instead of living without a job or going on unemployment.

Many restaurants are forgoing signing up for delivery services and doing it on their own. Why? Many of their front-of-house staff can now work in the pick-up and delivery areas, so they can keep their jobs.

It is worth noting that delivery service, Grub Hub, is waiving restaurant commission fees for independent restaurants, so if you are already a subscriber, this option might still work for you.

Go Touch-Free with Your Restaurant Business

It’s imperative that you make your pick-up and delivery options as touch-free as possible. Have all employees wear gloves when packaging meals.

The same holds true for your delivery drivers so they aren’t inadvertently passing the virus on.

Encourage your customers to allow for porch delivery instead of the traditional hand-off as this keeps both them and your team members safe.

Push Gift Cards

Many restaurants are encouraging their customers to stock up on gift cards both for themselves and for friends and relatives.

They can then use these gift cards when the Coronavirus is a memory in the rear view mirror. Another creative option for the restuarant business, this encourages ongoing loyalty from patrons when this cloud lifts.

restaurant success

With a little creativity, you can provide your customers with your favorite dishes.

Keeping Your Local Community and Staff Safe

You want to provide an environment where your staff feels safe to work, and the community feels safe ordering from your restaurant. (tweet this)

To that end, there are some cleaning strategies to implement or enhance what you are already doing.

First, you want to stay abreast of what’s going on in your community. Is there currently community spread? If not, you can maintain your standard sanitation practices.

If there is a potential for an outbreak, you want to enhance your cleaning procedures.

In the case where the Coronavirus is growing rapidly like in New York or California, you need to go into overdrive to make sure you are doing everything possible.

Yet, regardless of the situation in your community, it is a good idea to get started on this enhanced procedures now, so you are ready when it hits.

  • Ensure no ill staff member reports to work.
  • If a staff member has been in contact with an ill person or traveled to a level of high community spread, he/she should also not report to work.
  • Reinforce hand hygiene rules as well as proper cough etiquette.
  • Consider taking your team members’ temperature when they report to work.
  • Use an Environmental Protection Agency registered hard surface contact disinfectant.
  • Wipe, disinfect, and rinse your food prep, take-out packing area, and any areas that come in contact with customers multiple times per day.
  • Wash and sanitize everything on a more frequent basis.
  • Ensure your hand sinks are all properly outfitted with warm water, soap, and paper towels. Do not use cloth towels.
  • Make sure team members are washing their hands hourly and wearing gloves (and changing them out).

Final Thoughts

Restaurant businesses all have a common goal: to serve their community and keep them safe while doing so.

Like Matthew McConaughey said in a recent Twitter video, “Right now, more than ever before, we’re all more dependent on each other than we ever have been.”

Right now, your customers still want their food, but they may be too afraid to reach out for it. Do your best to communicate with them through all of your digital channels to let them know how you are going to keep your restaurant safe while ensuring they have access to your menu.

Finally, McConaughey left us all with another bit of advice, “There is a green light on the other side of this red light.”

This won’t last forever, and you can maintain your restaurant business during the Coronavirus with great hygiene and some creativity. (tweet this)

 At Restaurant Engine, not only do we create great, responsive websites, but you can count on us to create a website that drives business to your restaurant and edges you above the competition by using mobile-friendly design with a terrific user experience. Ready to take the plunge and create a website with an online menu, blog and beautiful photos? Get your free website consultation today!

Images: Jason Leung and Pablo Merchán Montes on Unsplash

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