Restaurants face a unique struggle when attempting to reopen safely. As terrible as the original dine-in closures were for the restaurant industry, possible secondary shutdowns due to unsafe conditions are potentially worse. A second round of shutdowns was seen in some areas, such as Texas, where reopening forged ahead too quickly with too few precautions. And just a few hours ago, California Governor Newsom re-closed all indoor business for a second time. While restaurants can still remain open for outdoor seating, this is still a step backwards in the state.
There are still positives to look forward to as a restaurant owner or operator, and knowing that even in these uncertain times you have some power over your situation can make all the difference in the world.
The safest option for restaurants looking to reopen to either outdoor seating or dine-in options (depending on the jurisdiction the restaurant is in) is to mitigate as much risk as possible and reopen safely. Limiting the spread not only keeps one restaurant safe, but also is important to limit the spread between all customers and employees.
FoodBoss Experience works and remains up to date on as much food delivery industry news as possible. While there are of course numerous possible issues restaurants face when opening, there are two large patterns we noticed when surveying the nationwide reopening issue. In order to safely open back up, both these issues, as well as other need to be addressed by restaurant owners and general managers.
1. Cleaning High Contact, High Traffic Areas
Since dining is safest outdoors, it’s easy to assume that once people get to the patio or outdoor seats, everything will be fine. However, restaurants have to remain cognizant of how people enter and exit the restaurant to remain safe. Restaurants should do everything possible to make the flow of the space one-way. One-way exits and entrances are the safest options, and employees should use alternative doors so there is limited interaction between diners and servers. Ideally, customers would be able to access the outdoor seating area without having to ever enter the inside of the restaurant, however this is not always possible, which is why one-way directional flows are vital in restaurants.
Additionally, those areas that are high traffic, even if they are one-way flowing, should be sanitized frequently. Door knobs, doors, and bathrooms in general are high touch surfaces that should be cleaned and sanitized as often as possible.
2. Maintaining Social Distance Even Outdoors
While the general recommendation is to maintain at least 6 feet of space between tables, (to appropriately accommodate the consistent 6 foot separation between people) tables should in fact be spaced roughly 8-10 feet apart in your restaurant. This provides additional space to remain extra safe and actually adhere to the underlying issue socially distancing requires.
As diners arrive and leave the table they will be in closer contact with adjacent tables. In addition, your servers need an additional amount of space to navigate the new layout. 8-10 feet between tables is more appropriate for a modified restaurant layout. To make it clear for your customers, you should use colored tape with proper signage to show people where they cannot walk.
While there are tons of important decisions that must be made when considering how to safely reopen, the two factors above are the most common problems restaurants face. While it’s very easy to get lost in the minutia, focusing on the largest issues first can make things easier. For more information about all the other considerations you need to take into consideration, visit the FoodBoss Restaurants Open for Business site.
If you're a restaurant looking to open up safely, visit that link and read about what you can do to keep employees and customers safe. And if you want to boost your restaurants food delivery orders, get listed on FoodBoss and increase your restaurants visibility and orders.