If your restaurant operations weren’t flexible before COVID-19, it’s likely they are now. In addition to “going” contactless, restaurants have had to change their floor plans, carefully place social distancing signage and put operation-wide sanitation plans into place. It’s been a lot for small restauranteurs to deal with, and depending on where your restaurant is located, it also requires checking with local and state regulations to see what’s even possible.
Expanding outdoor space. Even if you don’t have a patio, you can turn your parking lot into an outdoor dining area. Some cities are even allowing restaurants to use streets for expansion, like New York City did with their Open Streets plan last year.
And restaurants are using tents, greenhouses and igloos (and other creative ways) to keep their outdoor dining going. In Philadelphia, the Germantown Garden Grill (a steak house) has installed plastic igloos with warmers in each one that not only keep customers six feet apart, they provide physical barriers, too. Read about what other restaurants are doing to keep outdoor dining open during the cold weather season.
Be sure to stay on brand. As you reopen or readjust your dine-in services according to new restrictions, make sure that whatever plans you put into place reflect your brand. Take what’s unique about your food and beverages, and your customers, and incorporate that into your content and imagery.
Off-premise service becomes a lifeline, keep it. Curbside service, delivery, pickup and drive-thru helped many restaurants initially stay in business during COVID-19 and now they’re likely going to become a permanent part of your business. If you’re still implementing or need to fine tune your curbside service, OSHA has released safety guidelines you’ll want to take into consideration. These services will be crucial for small restaurants during the cold weather season, even with expanded outdoor dining and social distanced in-door dining.