As lockdown restrictions continue to be relaxed, the hospitality industry is gearing up to reopen next month. Although dates have yet to be confirmed, it has been tentatively suggested that restaurants, cinemas and hotels could reopen as early as 4th July. However, owners and managers will need to ensure that social distancing can be facilitated in every venue.
While business owners will no doubt be pleased that trading restrictions are being reduced, the need to implement social distancing controls will prove challenging. The current stipulation that people must remain at least 2 metres apart means floorplans and restaurant layouts will need to be modified before their doors can be opened.
Although many restaurants have resumed takeaway and delivery services, this will be the first time they’ve been able to welcome patrons since lockdown restrictions were introduced in March. If you’re eager to reopen your restaurant to diners, take a look at these top tips for preparing your venue:
- Increase workplace flexibility
Space is always at a premium in restaurants but it’s going to be even more important to maximise the space you have available. Workers will also need to socially distance from one another, so rethinking your kitchen layout and facilities is essential.
Fridge freezer trailer hire is just one way to make your workspaces more flexible. With the potential to move your food storage facilities outside your venue, you can create additional workspace to facilitate extra space. This will allow kitchen staff to observe social distancing protocols while still ensuring that your restaurant can operate effectively.
- Reduce covers
Restaurants often operate on thin margins, so being able to serve the maximum number of customers at once is critical to boosting profitability. However, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to operate with as many covers as you usually do. Take a look at your current front of house layout and see whether any of your tables are more than 2 metres from the next one. If not, you’re going to have to lose some of them if you want to reopen while social distancing requirements remain in place.
- Create welcoming pathways
If you’re going to welcome customers into your venue, they’ll need to be able to move from one area of your restaurant to another. If you usually operate on a ‘seat yourself’ basis, now might be the time to introduce ‘server-allocated seating’. This will ensure servers can guide customers to their tables via established pathways which minimise contact with other patrons.
- Close bar areas
If your restaurant has a separate bar area, you may be eager to keep it open. For many venues, the bulk of their profits come from the bar, so this is an important issue you’ll need to address. Unfortunately, people queuing for drinks, sitting at the bar or congregating in a relatively small area is going to breach social distancing regulations. Unless your bar is big enough to accommodate the 2-metre rule, you may need to offer a server-only drinks service and keep your bar temporarily closed.
- Introduce new menus
If you have a loyal customer base, people might be eager to return to your venue to sample their favourite meal after a long hiatus. However, modifying your menu could make it easier and more cost-effective to reopen with social distancing protocols in place.
A smaller menu ensures it’s cheaper to source ingredients, but it also means you can operate with fewer kitchen staff. Furthermore, choosing dishes that can be well-prepped ahead of time means you won’t need so many members of staff in the kitchen during service.
- Feature new entertainment
The past few weeks have been isolating and uncertain for everyone and many people are keen to experience a sense of normality. Although reopening with social distancing measures in place means your venue will feel a little different, hosting some form of entertainment will be a big draw and is sure to increase your bookings. With live music, for example, you can provide people the real-life entertainment they’ve been craving whilst on lockdown and give them a reason to remain in their seats and enjoy the evening with drinks, desserts and extras.
Staying Safe While Working in the Hospitality Industry
The hospitality sector has been severely affected by the lockdown restrictions and many people are understandably nervous about venues reopening. By following the latest guidance, increasing deep cleaning regimes and implementing effective control measures, you can ensure that your staff, suppliers and patrons can enjoy your venue safely at all times.