How to Prepare for Reopening your Restaurant

How to Prepare for Reopening your Restaurant



May 4, 2020

May 4, 2020

As the COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, many countries are taking serious measures to reopen businesses in an attempt to jump-start the economy and lift the lockdown. The United Arab Emirates has partially reduced the restrictions to its citizen starting April 24th, 2020 and has permitted the re-opening of restaurants and cafes with a 30% capacity. The ease of restrictions was introduced by The Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management and follows general guidelines that include respecting social distancing at the venue, ensuring a high level of standards of health and hygiene, and promoting smart digital payments over cash. With many restauranteurs keen on restarting their dine-in operations, how can you navigate through these guidelines and restrictions to reopen your business? Here’s what you need to know to get you started!

Be mindful of the guidelines and restrictions related to F&B

In order to adhere to the government guidelines and UAE authorities, you must first be aware of these restrictions to optimize your staff and operations. Here are important guidelines that F&B dine-in outlets should be aware of: 

  • Reduce seating arrangements to 30% and maintain placing seating and tables 6+ ft (~2 m) apart for all customers; 

  • Ensure to hang a red tag at the front door indicating the maximum number of customers allowed inside (this is a requirement); 

  • Calculate occupancy based on 4 feet per customer;

  • Ensure using disposable, individually wrapped plastic utensils/dishes/packages only; and 

  • Clean surfaces (tables, chairs) with 75% alcohol after each customer’s use/leave. 

  • Moreover, if your dine-in operates in a mall, it may be important to communicate to your guests that 75% of the mall parking shall be closed.

Ensure that all Sanitization Procedures are Being Practiced

According to WHO, the first step to be done is ensuring that you have taken the right steps to protect your workforce and guests from infections. The practices are:Ensure to pre-order sufficient supplies such as face masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers ahead of time;Display hand sanitizers in an accessible manner in your restaurant; Create a hygiene checklist for your staff to regularly abide by and ensure they are well trained on effectively maintaining high standard hygiene that fit with WHO’s practices; Guarantee to have a thermometer gun at hand to check the temperature of your employees and your guests prior to entering the restaurant;Abide by physical distancing between employees as well; Make sure your restaurant is well ventilated by opening windows, doors, and/or by increasing the ventilation; and Schedule a routine for cleaning all the flat surfaces in your restaurant such as tables, telephones, keyboards, workstations, and doorknobs; 

Re-organize your Floorplan layout

To respect the 30% capacity rule, it is important to first understand your restaurant’s total capacity with the venue area size and determine which sections to keep or close proving to be problematic for seating arrangement. You may wish to consider adopting a reservation-only policy to better space diners. Taking reservations in advance allows you to carefully consider the most suitable seating arrangement based on the arriving number of guests. Utilizing a table management system comes in handy when considering the optimization of your tables based on your adjusted capacity. serVme’s table management system allows you to waitlist guests and entertain walk-ins as well. Likewise, operating a dynamic floor plan which can be altered to your needs allows you to modify sections, table locations, table numbers, and add or remove unnecessary tables while creating the proper physical layout for your guests. 

Re-designing seating arrangements while keeping the tables at least two meters apart shouldn’t be a hassle. If you have fixed seating, such as booth seating, that you do not wish to use, consider physically blocking/hiding the tables to showcase a cozier restaurant layout.More significantly, using a smart table management system capable of tracking guest data (e.g. last seated table and section, diner patterns, habits, and preferences) enables your staff to optimize the tables and personalize the dining experience. 

Communicate with your Customers

In the midst of re-opening restaurants and cafes within the UAE, you need to consider communicating with your guests about the changes to your venue layout and other necessary measures to give bigger comfort to your diners. For instance, Il Faro, an authentic Italian restaurant in Dubai, that belongs to Nakheel Group, has relied on serVme’s marketing platform to communicate about the delivery changes during the lockdown. Another prominent group in UAE known as the BlackSpoon, which operates the finest and award-winning restaurants in Dubai, including Masti, Ibn Al Bahr, and Bombay Bangalow, has taken advantage of the communication and marketing channels to update their guests on their venues. serVme’s marketing platform which built on smart filtering mechanisms ensures a return on investment and increase of engagement post campaign launch. By leveraging these essential marketing tools, you can publicize the re-opening dates along with any changes, so all guests are fully aware.

Make Sure your Customers Feel Safe

While some diners may be on the fence about revisiting restaurants, ensuring you have taken strict precautions would be instrumental to reassuring guests to come back. Here are some suggested practices to reiterate the safety of your customers. 

  • Ensure your waiters are wearing face masks, gloves at all times; 

  • Ensure your servers are keeping 6 feet distancing between the customers;

  • Ensure the use of either disposable menus or digital/ contactless menus;

  • Ensure the use of disposable, individually wrapped plastic utensils and dishes only;

  • Provide customers with hand sanitizer before and after they eat; 

  • Provide customers with a contactless payment method by presenting them with the POS machine; and

  • Encourage customers to wash their hands after eating. 

Be prepared by adopting a suitable technology partner

Understandably the restaurant industry has taken a big hit since the unraveling of the global healthcare crisis, yet restaurants are bound to re-open eventually. Restaurants should have a solid plan before re-opening the dine-in venues to help them embrace and adapt to the new norm – social distancing – among other customs. Asserting that your restaurant conforms to all health and safety standards and communicating the changes to your guests, can help you slowly get back on track to increase customer visits and revenues.  Operating during the COVID-19 pandemic may sound discouraging at first, hence why we have outlined these suggestions in building confidence to re-open with these guidelines in mind. 

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Posted by :

Mohammed Rafy