We’re already seeing that the coronavirus crisis is having a significant impact on restaurants and food service businesses across the United States. Social distancing mandates are asking restaurant owners to limit their capacity, adjust menu items, and in some areas, they are ceasing operations entirely.
We’ve been following closely, and have some suggested restaurant best practices to protect you, your employees, your customers, and the longevity of your business. The items below focus on restaurants, but they could also apply to any number of food service businesses.
1. Follow federal and local government guidelines
This is a fast-moving crisis that varies by location. It’s essential to stay updated with the latest recommendations from your local agencies and federal organizations, such as the Center for Disease Control. In many cases, cities are imposing strict emergency guidelines to limit the spread of coronavirus at restaurants.
For example, San Francisco and New York ask all restaurants to limit services to takeout or delivery orders. This trend is spreading across other cities throughout the United States.
2. Reduce the number of customers you serve
Reduce the occupancy of your restaurant at peak hours to limit the number of people inside and allow at least six feet between customers/tables. This will impact your bottom line, but it’s crucial to limit person-to-person contact among your customers and staff.
3. Plan on delivery and to-go orders
Service is already limited to deliver or to-go orders at restaurants in shelter-in-place communities. If your restaurant is not yet under a shelter-in-place mandate, creating a contingency plan for the possibility of limiting service at your restaurant can lead to a smoother transition. Some restauranteurs are working to diversify their income by starting a food delivery business.
4. Double down on disinfectant
Disinfect tables and chairs after every contact, as well as communal items such as salt and pepper shakers, menus, condiments, and tablecloths.
5. Streamline service to limit contact
Minimize the number of people who handle plates or to-go packages before they reach a customer. Consider having a server act as a food runner, as well. Employees should wash their hands before handling any dish or packages that will be used by a customer.
6. Check-in with high-risk employees and customers
If you have employees in high-risk groups, allow them time off to avoid exposure. Also, encourage customers that fall into these groups to utilize delivery or curbside options rather than dining in.
7. Make sure your property is secure and safe
If you plan to reduce your hours of operation or close your restaurant due to the coronavirus crisis, take the proper precautions to ensure your property is secure and safe. Make sure all doors and windows are locked, security systems are up and running, and remove any high-value items, if possible.
8. Maintain open communication with employees and customers
As the leader of your business, it’s important to be transparent and open with your employees and customers. Food service workers are some of the most impacted in the face of the coronavirus crisis.
Update your employees on changes to your business that could affect their safety and wages. Share any changes in service with your customers online and with posted signs at your restaurant. Social media can be a valuable tool to communicate with your customers, as well.
Next Insurance supports food service businesses
We understand that running your restaurant in these uncertain times can present significant challenges and confusion. As you deal with the uncertainty of the coronavirus crisis, we are standing by to assist with any insurance-related questions you may have.
Visit our dedicated webpage for restaurant business insurance to learn more about the coverages that can protect your business. We are 100% committed to supporting your needs during this difficult time.