For a successful reopening, you’ll want to make sure your books are open, your staff are ready and guests know what to expect. To ensure social distancing and heightened hygiene practices restaurants will need to consider these 4 things:
1. Comply with government mandates by setting maximum capacity limits
In addition to person-to-person social distancing, there are now restrictions on how many people can be in an enclosed space at any given time. Depending on the size of your restaurant, this could have large implications for your occupancy and profitability.
Setting capacity limits doesn’t mean you have to reconfigure your floor plans. Plus, not all venues will have space to hide excess tables. Make sure your restaurant management system allows you to set a maximum occupancy, without having to reconfigure your floor plans. Once this is done you can relax, knowing that you will never overbook your capacity unless you knowingly overwrite it yourself.
2. Assure guests you are maintaining social distancing
While Australia is lifting lockdown restrictions and restaurants prepare to open their doors, It is expected that social distancing regulations will remain for some time. It is important to keep in mind diner sentiments and behaviour during this time.
Make sure you have technology that lets you be flexible with your floor plans, to adhere to social distancing and that you can easily update your online booking messages, to reassure your guests before arrival.
3. Minimise crowds/queues – make guests feel safe with managing your service flow
If you’re a venue that normally gets a large amount of walk-ins, take a moment to consider your operations without these types of diners. Whether you retain good walk-in trade or not, social distancing impacts the flow of your service, as it may be harder to have lots of people arriving, waiting and leaving your venue at the same time.
Set your system to adjust the amount of diners that can arrive every 15 minutes. This will avoid bottlenecks, crowding and help you easily manage the flow of your service. You can also let diners know of other offerings, such as takeaway/delivery and outdoor or bar seating, so they can still enjoy your restaurant and feel safe.
4. Set enough time between seatings to comply with sanitation requirements
After you first reopen, it still may be too early to really know if or how your sequence of service could change. You may have a new menu and your staff numbers may differ. You may have longer processes because of increased sanitation measures. Whichever way it goes, there’s a strong chance that diners will be occupying tables for a different amount of time than you may be used to.
Make sure to go through the prep times of your new menu with your chef’s and runners. Run through your sequence of service with your host and front-of-house team. Once you’ve got a good understanding of your new normal, update your table turn times to ensure service is smooth. It is also important to let diners know of these changes by updating your online booking policies so they feel like they’re in safe hands.