How to run a restaurant in the face of uncertainty

The hospitality industry is being hit hard. With small margins, any sustained drop in covers has a big impact. Nearly every restaurant is feeling the impact and preparing for likely shifts to come. No matter what scenario you’re in, OpenTable is here to offer steps you can take based on what we’re seeing in the industry at large.

Updated July 8, 2020

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1. Stay informed

As COVID-19 continues to make headlines, reduced travel and government calls to practice social distance and avoid large gatherings are hitting restaurants hard.


2. Connect with guests

Guests’ behaviors are changing. You’ll want to stay in touch with guests who’ve already booked, while continuing to be discovered by those looking to dine out in cities where restaurants remain open.

3. Meet guests where they are by adjusting your services

People are understandably nervous. Make it easy for people to choose your restaurant and realign the way you operate during these uncharted times.

4. Support your staff

With closures for dine and an increase in delivery and takeout orders, you will likely have a shift in staffing needs and staff members are likely to be concerned. There are ways to take care of them.

  • Share unemployment and financial aid resources with your staff members to help them get through these tough times.
  • Consider setting up or choosing an existing fund you want diners to support, using a fundraising platform such as FacebookFundly, or GoFundMe.
  • Show diners how to give back to your restaurant on your OpenTable profile.
  • Share your talking points for when guests have questions. Shift notes can help you keep this top of mind for your staff.
  • Have an on-call program so staff can get extra shifts if others are sick.

5. Adjust operations

As conditions change, stay on top of the impact on your business. Realign the way you manage your books and run your service accordingly.

6. Encourage increased cleanliness

The more you can do to go above and beyond to protect your guests and reassure them about your hygiene efforts, the better.

  • ServSafe is offering free online courses for restaurant staff about food handling precautions for takeout and delivery.
  • Increase sanitation by keeping hand sanitiser at the entrance.
  • Clean counters, handles, and bathrooms more frequently and thoroughly.



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The state of the restaurant industry

As the COVID-19 pandemic keeps people home and some cities, states, and countries limit restaurant operations, our community of nearly 50,000 restaurants faces unprecedented challenges. We’ve summarized the data from the restaurants on our platform of year-over-year seated diners and are updating it daily.

See the latest in the data center

“The world’s health and the health of our industry is at the front of our minds now. In times of economic uncertainty restaurants get hit hard. While we don’t know the complete impact at this time, one thing is for certain, we have the backs of our nearly 50,000 restaurant partners. We are in this together.”

Andrea Johnston, OpenTable COO