Do you own a restaurant, food stall, or other food service business, and you plan to continue feeding your community despite the COVID-19-induced lockdown? From educating your staff about health and safety precautions to strengthening your delivery services, here are 6 measures you should take in order to run safe and effective business operations.
1. Take care of your staff
From upscale Italian Dublin restaurants down to street-food vendors, communities rely heavily on food service workers who keep the country running. Taking care of your staff can make all the difference in your team’s wellbeing and tenure at your food business.
- Make employees feel comfortable in their workplace
- Provide your staff with protective equipment, like masks and gloves.
- Communicate clear procedures and updates to your staff
- Ask sick employees to stay at home and offer paid sick leave
- Insist on cleanliness
2. Reach out to your customers
Send an informative and inspiring message to your customers. Social media is your friend.
Let your customers know 5 things:
- Let them know whose direction you’re following (such as the local health department)
- Inform them about the steps you have taken and are taking to ensure the safety of your staff and guests. You may say you’ve placed sanitizers, you’re enforcing contactless deliveries, and you’ve suspended self-service services.
- Announce the change and inform them about the ways they can reach you for ordering food deliveries (if it applies).
- Tell customers about new policies in line with COVID-19 prevention (such as the temperature checking and the right to refuse service to sick customers)
- Give them links they can access for more information.
3. Increase sanitation
With the spread of COVID-19, restaurants should operate with the understanding that their establishment should be the most sanitary it’s ever been.
- Increase mandatory hand washing protocol to twice an hour
- Provide them disinfectants, cleaning materials, and protective equipment (approved by the local health department)
- Clean all surfaces and rooms more frequently than usual
- Any surfaces that employees and customers touch the most require frequent cleaning.
- Put hand sanitizers at your door openers and restrooms
- If there are several reported cases nearby, consider throwing away utensils.
- Let your staff and guests know that their health and safety are your top priority.
4. Pivot to takeout and delivery
To prevent the spread of the disease, restaurants and other food services are enforced to stop allowing customers to dine inside the establishment. Shift your efforts to improving your takeout, drive-thru and delivery services.
Effective preparation for what might be coming is key.
- All staff members should wear face masks
- Offer curbside takeout, if applicable.
- Take customer orders in-person while following the “social distancing” protocols. Put a barrier or a marker between the customer ordering and the cashier.
- Limit bare-hand contact as possible. Some restaurants ask their customers to place their cash payment in a tray and receive their change the same way.
- Customers may stand in line, maintaining a 6-foot distance from each other. Restaurants are advised to place signs or markers.
- Customers should also be prevented from using the self-service area.
- All beverages, condiments, and single-use items like utensils and napkins, should be given directly to the customer.
- Take customer orders by phone or from their online delivery platforms.
- You may also consider having a third-party delivery system.
- Contactless delivery and payments are encouraged to limit interactions from customers.
- If your existing delivery vehicles aren’t enough, consider using your personal vehicles.
5. Optimize your menu for online ordering delivery
People who can’t go out to buy food-to-go will have no choice but to use your delivery services. Since there’s a chance you’re operating with reduced staff and a surge in food orders, it’s important to pare down your menu to your most profitable and delivery-friendly items only.
Consolidate and make sure each ingredient you buy is used for more than one menu item. Doing so will help reduce your inventory costs significantly. It will ease the load from your cooks too.
6. Offer to fill your customer’s fridges
Even big restaurants are selling their food in bulk, often raw, to boost cash flow while avoiding spoilage. It’s a win-win situation for restaurants and for customers, who find it difficult to go out and buy groceries from time to time.
Restaurants may sell their raw and marinated meat and poultry, packaged cheeses, and frozen goods, and pack them as “ready to cook” food. If you have semi-perishable supplies from your vendors, like unopened containers of milk and dairy products, you may sell them as well.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a lifestyle writer for L’Enoteca Di Napoli, an Italian restaurant, showcasing the best of Italian food and wines in the heart of Dublin city centre. Next to eating pizza and sipping wine, this self-proclaimed foodie enjoys discovering hidden gems and writing engaging articles about food, travel, and lifestyle.