Across the United States, more than 16,000 restaurants had permanently closed their doors as of July 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to ABC News. The coronavirus has hit the restaurant industry and hospitality industry hard as many Americans are staying home and spending less money—many of them have lost their jobs, too, from New York City to South Carolina.
As a small business owner, you likely want to avoid closing your restaurant during this lockdown period, too. Whenever you end up hosting your restaurant reopening, you may want to consider innovating some while we are in COVID-19 quarantine and social distancing. Learn about some ways and get additional information on how you can keep innovating your restaurant post-lockdown.
Since your restaurant is currently empty, but you are still employing your restaurant workers, right now is a great time to work on making any improvements to your restaurant space. If you can market your restaurant as eco-friendly on social media, that can be a big differentiator. Consider adding in new eco-friendly practices such as:
None of us know how long this COVID-19 lockdown will last or how long social distancing will be a recommended practice, but your restaurant will need to adapt to be compliant with CDC guidelines and to make sure that people do not come in close contact with each other. When your dining room does open back up, it may look quite different than what customers were used to seeing. Your restaurant employees and hospitality workers will be wearing face masks and potentially other personal protective equipment, sanitizing surfaces, cleaning door handles, and more.
Common areas like bar areas or hostess stands may need to be amended so that you do not have too many people gathered in one spot. This may require physical barriers or the removal of benches and chairs so that everyone is encouraged to keep a physical distance of six feet away from each other. Other things you should do as a restaurant owner include:
If you have the space for it, you can also create an outdoor seating area that could permit you to safely serve more customers than in just the indoor dining room especially if there are capacity limits to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and reduce infection rates.
Make sure your restaurant workers and staff members are trained on the new strategies so that when the COVID-19 crisis lessens, your state's stay at home order or executive order is lifted, and you can reopen, the first few days will go smoothly. All small business owners know that happy customers will often provide great reviews.
Until restaurants are allowed to fully reopen, you may need to make some online sales. While you may be allowed to have outdoor dining, takeout and delivery services will also benefit your restaurant. Customers can come to pick up their food after putting in an online order or you can deliver food to them for a small fee.
If a website is not already in your business plan, you may want to consider creating one so that customers can put in online orders at one of their favorite restaurants. This extra income could potentially help you retain most of the service workers on your payroll and might help you stay open during a trying time for the foodservice industry when so many other restaurant business owners have made the tough decision to shutter their doors forever.
To further boost sales, you could also add gift cards to your website. This gives people a chance to buy gift cards now and use them later when it is a more secure environment for diners.
No matter what happens during this COVID-19 lockdown, make sure your restaurant is shown in a good light to community members. Any bad press, especially on social media, could hurt your restaurant reopening. Following guidelines from the federal government, the World Health Organization, and the National Restaurant Association, and other local entities will help and they can all also be a great restaurant COVID resource.
If you need financial aid or financial assistance to help pay employees, you may be eligible for small business loans. Restaurant owners have a lot to think about and consider during this time and COVID-19 may cause many to completely change their business model before this is all said and done.