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Restaurant Recovery Strategies As Restaurants Re-Open

Re-open diligently and business will come
Splish Naturals
Splish Naturals
Splish Naturals

I originally wrote about restaurant strategies for weathering the Covid-19 pandemic in March. Now that we are in June, some areas of the country are still locked down, while others are opening up. In this article, I will explore key strategies for your business today and in the foreseeable future.

Studies show that your guests will be concerned about their safety. They will want to know what measures your restaurant has taken. If your guests recognize that your place of business is as safe a place as they can expect, then they will be more likely to frequent it.

When an infected person breathes, talks, coughs, or sneezes, the virus hitches a ride on water pellets that the person exhales. Think of the mist that you see emerging from your mouth on a cold day. The expelled droplets land on a surface from three to six feet (one to three meters) of the person. The virus enters the body when the person inhales the droplets from the air or touches the infected surface and then touches their face. The virus hitches a ride from hand to face. It cannot enter your body via the skin, which is a very functional shield. It can only enter your body via your mouth, nose, or eyes.

An infected person may be asymptomatic, meaning that they have the disease and can infect others without knowing it.

Your goal as a business owner is:

  • Encourage responsible behavior amongst your staff.
  • Maintain virus-free surfaces.
  • Keep guests in personal bubbles so that if they, unknowingly, are infected, they do not spread it to others in the restaurant.

Manage personnel
If your staff are sick, they should stay at home. If you can, support self-reporting and self-isolation by paying sick employees.

Even so, your employees may be asymptomatic. According to the CDC, cooked food will not spread a virus, but hard surfaces, like plates and utensils, may. Those who are plating the meals should probably have a face shield and wash their hands frequently.

Photo credit: Danielle Rice / Unsplash

Front of the house staff should not venture into the kitchen, and they should wear masks. Since they will be walking in the restaurant, you will also want to lessen their possible exposure.

Just like hairnets are standard in restaurants, face shields may become so too. Face shields will probably be less uncomfortable than masks for kitchen staff.

You've probably already heard all the advice on handwashing. Washing your hands with regular soap for 20 seconds is usually good enough.

A hand sanitizer may be a better solution. Servers can keep a bottle in an apron or pocket rather than crowding a sink, and it is faster than hand washing. It will prevent dry skin. Cracked skin creates a new vector for the virus to enter your body.

How about sanitizers for your guests? Some restaurants may want to have a sanitizer at the entrance. However, an attractive package at the table can be an impressive perk. An excellent hand sanitizer is available from Splish Naturals. It contains essential oils and other high-quality, moisturizing ingredients, thus preventing dry and cracked skin and the need to follow up with a lotion.

Keeping the restaurant sanitary is extremely important. Here is a link to an approved list of products by The virus can live on plastic, glass, or metal surfaces for days. Wipe down all kitchen surfaces; stove knobs; door handles; bathroom surfaces; chair backs; counter-tops, and tables. In other words, sanitize wherever someone may have touched a surface, several times a day. Consider doing a thorough sanitizing at the end of every day.

Additionally, you can provide hand sanitizers at each table. Splish Naturals is giving away free samples of their sanitizer to businesses. Please apply for your free sample here.

Reorganize Your Restaurant
Currently, restaurant seating maximizes the number of covers. You may have to adjust that approach so that each table is a separate oasis.
Strategically positioning tables and Shoji screens can do the trick.

What do you do about fixed seating like booths and bars? You can't move your booths around, but guests within a booth are somewhat already isolated, so it should be fine. If you're unsure because your booths are very close to each other, consider closing every other booth. The same goes for bar stools. If your bar has fixed bar stools, it may be prudent to impose an empty barstool rule between groups of friends. New friends can make their own decisions. It will test their trust!

Corridors that lead to exits or the bathroom will have to be re-arranged. You may have to designate one-way corridors and protect seated guests with decorative screens.

Air Conditioning and Ventilation
Studies in China and Japan have shown that one infected individual can dramatically infect a group of diners within that diner's spray radius. If the infected individual is near an AC unit, their spray can spread through the vents to another part of the restaurant. On the other hand, Coronavirus efficiently dissipates with proper airflow. Look into installing negative air systems that draw air out of the restaurant and do not re-circulate the same air. Instead, they should pull in fresh filtered air from outside.

Give People Alternate Ways to Experience Your Restaurant
Your restaurant is about more than food. The ambiance created by the architecture, the people in your restaurant, and the service are equally important. Pre-packaged take-out, table-cloth included, may be a viable alternative. Picnic meals can become fashionable this summer.

You may want to consider signing up for a food delivery service, like GoTab. What your guests may be missing in ambiance, they may be gaining in peace-of-mind.

Curbside service has become common. Is a food truck appropriate for your restaurant?

Communicate with your Guests
Lastly, do communicate the immense steps that you have chosen to your customers. The goal is for them to feel that they are as safe in your restaurant as they are at their office. It may not be perfect, but it is not a cesspool of disease as irrational fear may lead them to assume. Even if they choose to isolate themselves, at least they know that you tried. They will be back when the pandemic is eventually over, and they will appreciate your efforts.

Let us know
What steps have you taken? Let us know by email or social media. Follow us and hashtag #foodwinespirits. We'll give you a shoutout for your efforts.

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Emiliano, Nice product placement for Splish, and thumbs up for the other good advice. Please note that 3 to 6 feet is one to two meters, not three. Should be corrected. Cheers, Bernard