Almost one year ago, the Covid-19 virus ‘corona’ ascended into our lives, disrupting the concept of a normal life entirely. Initially, the pandemic was thought to be temporary, but as the virus spread throughout the world, it was concluded that the pandemic might be here to stay. And so, adapting to the lifestyle changes brought by Covid-19 seems like the best option for now. This also seems like the only solution to problems of the economic downturn caused by prolonged lockdowns to eliminate the virus. Most countries have adapted to the changes and have started operating in the traditional ways, enabling businesses, schools, offices, etc., to reopen but only with proper precautionary measures so that no lives are at risk of being exposed to the virus. However, for restaurants to stay afloat, it is a lot harder to operate than offices and organisations, where social distancing is not that hard. Restaurants employees have to work in a confined space of the kitchen and be exposed to different kinds of people throughout the day, making it hard for them to follow the concept of social distancing. There are still some cues that might help you in getting your restaurant to adapt to Covid-19.
How to Adapt to the Covid-19 Pandemic While Running a Successful Restaurant
There are specific precautionary measures to ensure your customers and employees’ safety while still operating your restaurant. But the significant aspect of this is planning, in hopes of keeping your restaurant afloat without compromising the food quality, prices, or the health of your employees.
Plan and Create a safe environment
Initiation of your business once again in the pandemic can be tricky work. Therefore you need to plan out every step that must be taken so that the restaurant stays operating and is not at risk of spreading the covid-19 virus. The first step is to plan out the precautionary measures that are required, such as the availability of hand sanitizers, face masks, disinfectants inside the restaurant at all times. They should be available at multiple locations within the restaurants, so they are in reach of the customers and the employees. Moreover, the health of all the employees should be assessed beforehand, and they should all be required to test negative for Coronavirus before starting work again to ensure there is no risk of the virus from within the restaurant.
Planning the changes that are required is an essential part of reopening your restaurant in these circumstances. Planning helps you assess the risk factors that your restaurant may be subjected to. And based on that, you can come up with suitable crisis management planning techniques as well.
Maintaining cleanliness within the restaurant premises is the best way to ensure there is no risk of the virus. Before opening your restaurant again, it is advised to thoroughly clean the entire restaurant with disinfectants and maintain the standard of cleanliness by disinfecting your restaurant area at least two to three times a day. Moreover, the cutlery should be cleaned thoroughly, before being served to the customers and afterward to lower the chances of contamination. If you wish not to opt for disposable cutlery, you can still consider using reusable containers but can still minimise the contact between the customers and the employees.
Expand the contemporary delivery service
If your restaurant does not offer delivery services yet, this might be a good friend time to initiate this service. Due to the virus’s risk, most people prefer to eat within the safe space of their home. This is why the takeaway portion of restaurants have flourished recently, while the dine-in portion has sunk. The primary advantage of introducing a delivery service for your restaurant’s food is that your business will still be intact, and the food delivery service can cover the losses of previous months. A lesser number of customers would prefer to eat within the restaurant, decreasing the chances of contamination.
If your restaurant already has a food delivery service, this might be the ideal time to expand and enhance it throughout the neighbourhood.
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Train Your Staff
The restaurant employees may need some time to adapt to the changes being made. And may require training beforehand to ensure that the SOPs are followed even in your absence. No compromise should be made on the precautionary measures. The staff should be advised to immediately report any employee displaying even the remotest signs of Coronavirus. They should also be instructed to use hand sanitizers regularly throughout the day.
Moreover, they should be trained in disinfecting the cutlery, furniture, floors, appliances, etc., regularly. If the staff is supervised for the initial period of opening, they might adapt to the changes much faster. The employees’ health should not be compromised in any case, so if any employee is feeling unwell or unfit to work, they should be granted leave immediately.
The employees must be strictly instructed to wear gloves and face masks at all times, regardless of the number of customers present. Furthermore, there must be a safe distance kept from the customers and amongst the employees as well. It is well-advised for you to create a schedule for the employees to work in different shifts, to keep the minimum number of employees required at one time. This also helps practice social distancing.
Introduce Outdoor Dining
Many restaurants have terraces or patios that are not being put to good use. Restaurants in marketplaces also have enough space outside to introduce outdoor dining. Outdoor dining is a sidewalk, patio, rooftop, or terrace-based dining, which either operates entirely in the open or is associated with an indoor restaurant as an extension. Outdoor dining is becoming more and more popular as eating at aesthetically pleasing places has grown. People prefer eating at places that provide both quality food and a serene and artistic environment. Enjoying quality food in the open air is more relaxing than dining in confined areas with limited spaces. However, along with the modern trends, outdoor dining is the best way to practice social distancing while still providing the customers with an aesthetic atmosphere. Outdoor dining also reduces the chance of the spread of the Coronavirus, as compared to indoor dining. This provides you with enough space to assist a large number of customers without having to compromise social distancing. Moreover, if the outdoor area of your restaurant is intelligently assembled and designed, it may even end up as a popular spot for people to visit.
Encourage Customers to Follow SOPs
Along with employee, customer should also be encouraged to follow the precautionary measures. Each customer should be requested to use hand sanitizer before entering the restaurant and should be encouraged to wear masks throughout their time in the restaurant, and only to lower the mask while eating. Educational emails regarding the changes being made in the restaurant should be sent to the customers. The customers should be advised to keep a safe distance from the employees. No entry should be allowed without a face mask.
Improve Food Hygiene
Along with the premises’ hygiene, it is necessary to uphold food hygiene as well. The best way to do that is to ensure that your resource suppliers meet the requirements of cleanliness and follow proper SOPs while delivering the resources. The stock must be stored in clean and safe places.
Modify the Seating Arrangement
The seating arrangement should be rearranged in a way that it provides more distance between the customers. The tables should be placed farther apart from each other, and the chairs should also be arranged in a manner that there is open space between them. Furthermore, self-service at the bar should be discouraged, and the seating at bar counters should be banned unless the bar space is free enough to provide enough space between the seats to practice physical distancing. Salad-bars etc., should also eliminate self-catering. The seating arrangement can be intelligent to accommodate the customers so that it does not violate any provided guidelines to ensure that your restaurant is on the safe side and not at risk of closure.
You must ensure there is sufficient ventilation within the restaurant to make sure that the area is not jam-packed and there is room for fresh air. This reduces the risk of the virus being spread and eliminates any sort of contamination. Due to the variety of people that visit your restaurant, it can be tough to keep track of anyone that may be showing symptoms of the virus. Hence, through ventilation, the polluted air can be easily eliminated. On the contrary, keeping the restaurant’s windows and doors closed can suffocate the area and can be deemed as hazardous.
Integrate Physical Barriers
Physical barriers, such as tapes on the floor, sidewalks, etc., are necessary to ensure that the customers keep a safe physical distance. Many people are oblivious of the necessity to maintain distance and need to be reminded of it, which is why physical barriers, tapes, or marked spots are helpful for multiple purposes.
Arrange a Backup for Staff
In case of the absence of any staff member, there must always be a backup, so you never have to suffer from staff shortage. With a broader team, there is a chance to ensure flexible working hours for each employee without ever facing a shortage of employees. This process needs to be planned out intelligently and will benefit both the employees and your restaurant.
Adapting to the changes around you due to Covid-19 may not be as flexible as they seem and might require you to work a lot harder than before. However, adaption to the changes is our only salvation from encountering the same losses that we have suffered in the previous months. A typical lifestyle in these circumstances is rather hard to obtain. And if these changes are ignored, we might have to pay a heavy price for it. Restaurants are at more risk of being closed due to violation of any precautionary measure because they are among the places that the public visits most. And if the situation is not tackled efficiently, your restaurant can be closed with no hope of opening any time soon, leading you and your employees to suffer from the same losses as that of the months before.
All around us, people have started to adapt and opt for change to make sure their businesses stay operating. And it is high time, restaurant owners also adapt to the change and plan out opening restaurants again. If this pandemic is here to stay, the best way is to deal with changes positively rather than trying to grieve over the loss of a normal lifestyle. So that your restaurant can still run in the same way it did back in the days before the pandemic. If taken a positive approach towards it, this pandemic may enable you to enhance your restaurant’s hygiene and food quality which may be compromised before. It may lead you to introduce new services such as food-delivery and outdoor dining. All in all, even in such grave circumstances there is still a need of your creativity to act out and bring changes within your restaurant. These might be the changes that you never would have thought about before, but now are a necessity to keep your business afloat. And so, the effective planning can help you bring changes that might benefit your restaurant in the long run.
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