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. Whether you’ve seen an impact on your business yet or want to prepare now for likely drops to come, here are some steps you can take based on what we’re seeing in the industry at large.
Updated April 22, 2020

To help restaurants reopen, OpenTable offers new price cuts for 2020

We’re in this together. As restaurants prepare to open up their doors, OpenTable is ready. We’re ready to help you get you back on your feet, and we’re ready to help diners rediscover their love for great dining experiences with you.

  • No subscription fees through the end of the 2020
  • No cover fees through September 30, 2020
  • Up to 50% discount on cover fees in the fourth quarter of 2020
  • Standard subscription and cover pricing resume only in January 2021*
  • Plus, we’re now introducing three subscription tiers designed to fit the needs of every location: Basic, Core and Pro.
  • Complete the form to receive follow-up information and first-access to participate

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.

  • Turn on delivery and takeout options to let people know they can enjoy your delicious food without going out ( see tips for moving to delivery and pickup only).
  • Remind guests that they can support your restaurant by buying gift cards to use in the future. We are waiving fees on OpenTable’s Gifts portal to help promote gift cards to our network of diners. Giver - a Melbourne based web app for selling digital vouchers is supporting restaurants who want to include gift vouchers in their product offering, by extending a 15% discount on selected plans, as well as waiving their “on-brand” design service fee.
  • Prepare to offer grocery and pantry items or take-and-bake meals (see how restaurants are getting creative with this).
  • Make sure you continue to manage your availability as mandates get expanded (see how to change change for special days in OpenTable).
  • As you close availability, make sure you cancel any existing reservations so guests know.
  • Simplify your menu items and consider pausing capital expenses.

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 Facebook, Fundly, 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.

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 60,000 restaurants faces unprecedented challenges. We’ve summarised 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 60,000 restaurant partners. We are in this together.

-Andrea Johnston, OpenTable COO