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How to set reopen date amid pandemic

This article is part of our blog series, “Reopening your restaurant: What you need to know,” and gives you some ideas for managing and potentially reducing your expenses as you fully reopen your restaurant after the crisis.

Published May 13, 2020

Lockdowns are easing in different ways and speeds around the world, and re-openings vary. Some restaurant operators will want to open as soon as restrictions lift. Others prefer to time their re-openings based on other factors, such as consumer sentiment or response to the relaxing of restrictions. Yet others will wait to plan re-openings around particular dates or holidays. 

No matter your timing, here are some actions to consider as you move toward reopening your restaurant.

Document your plan

Create a detailed plan of the main activities you need to complete prior to reopening, along with timelines of what needs to be completed by when. This will ensure you’re ready for reopening, that you’re not caught off guard by unforeseen obstacles and that you can adapt your timeline quickly if anything changes.

Create your staffing plan

Consider putting your staff schedule together in advance, at least two weeks before reopening. Account for recruitment plans if you need to bring in new employees, and any new training (or retraining) that needs to be done prior to opening—especially around compliance with new government or health organization guidelines. You may find you need fewer staff initially as you wait for regular business to ramp up. If you set up takeaway and delivery operations during the lockdown, factor this into your staffing plan.

Contact your purveyors

It’s a good idea to get in touch with your suppliers to find out the status of their operations. Are they still open? Can they provide you with the ingredients and materials or equipment that you need?  What are their order timelines? Can they guarantee deliveries? Have their prices changed? The answers to these questions will help you plan for restocking your inventory in a timely way and help you develop your menus.

Review and revise your menus

Consider whether you need to modify your menus for when you re-open. Initially, you may want to offer a smaller menu as your business builds up; this will allow you to adapt quickly and keep control of your costs. Which menu items are most popular and/or most cost effective? Also keep in mind whether you’re staffed with new or former kitchen staff—will this affect your new menu? If you set up a new takeaway and delivery service, should you offer your dine-in menu, or a modified version?

Review your floor plan and food safety measures

Consider reviewing and adapting your floor plan, food safety measures and processes to comply with the latest government and health organization guidelines and regulations.

Get in touch with your service providers

It could be a good idea to get a status update from your service providers to make sure they can continue to support you. These services could include internet and phone service, payroll, trash and recycling, laundry, uniforms and linen, grease pick up, hood cleaning, repairs and maintenance, IT, music and video services. Status updates could include continued levels of service, any changes in pricing and any fees waived for the period during which you were closed.

Connect with your customers: marketing and social media

If you haven’t already, now’s a great time to ramp up your social media presence. You could engage customers with photographs of your new layout or new menu items. You can also let them know about your reopening dates and hours as well as promotions and loyalty offers.

Everything you need to create­ a contactless dine-in experience

Let your guests see the menu, order, pay and tip— all from their mobile phone.

Need more information?