Indoor Dining Is Back: 4 Best Tips to Get Your Restaurant Ready

restaurant owner welcoming diners indoors, holding an OPEN sign and wearing a black face mask safe takeout food

Indoor Dining Is Back: 4 Best Tips to Get Your Restaurant Ready

Need to get your restaurant ready for reopening? Download the Complete Guide to Reopening a Restaurant in a COVID-19 world.

Indoor dining in San Francisco and California is back after a long hiatus. The governor’s recently introduced a simplified reopening regime, which places the area in Tier 2 – Substantial. For restaurants, this means welcoming back indoor diners. The new indoor dining scheme allows for a max capacity of 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak, most Bay Area restaurants have adapted their business model to fit the new normal. Now that you’re no longer limited to takeout and delivery, there are a few things to take care of before getting back to indoor dining. These include being familiar with health guidelines issued by the CDC, reevaluating the value of labor, integrating new technologies and rethinking inventory.

The value of labor

Social distancing

Hygiene and sanitation

Technology solutions

Optimizing your inventory

Rethinking Restaurant Staff: The Value of Labor

service staff carrying trays smiling value of lbaor

Restaurant workers are going back to the same job for less money. Now that indoor dining is once again allowed, waitstaff, cooks and sanitation workers are asked to come back to work with no changes to their compensations, health insurance or paycheck. And with less people coming in, tips will also decrease significantly.

In response, restaurant owners are shifting to a worker-centered model. Here are some ways to help your workers:

  • Reduce staff: while not ideal for workers being laid off, this will enable you to pay more money to the workers you keep.
  • No tipping policy: by not accepting gratuity and instead raising the price of menu items, restaurant owners are able to pay employees a living wage and provide them with benefits. A noble gesture at times when service workers have practically no job security. Although diners end up paying the same price for the meal, this might make your menu seem more expensive. But remember that many people are looking to support local restaurants and their employees as much as they can. Be transparent with your customers and thank them for their support.
  • Health insurance: Look for different health insurance coverages, you may find one that’s more beneficial and cost-effective for your worker.
    Indoor Dining Safety during Covid-19

Safety and health guidelines are of topmost importance to help keep your restaurant open. Follow the California Department of Public Health guidance page for the updated guidelines. Here are the main issues you need to know about:

Social Distancing for Indoor Dining

Social distancing is the best way to prevent contagion. For employees, be sure to:

  • Limit the number of workers by changing shift hours
  • Make changes to your menu. Less preparations means less cooks in the kitchen.
  • Group your employees in teams of 2-3 so their shifts don’t overlap to avoid contagion.

For customers:

  • Set a limit to the number of dine-in customers (in accordance with the local health authorities)
  • Place tables at least 6 ft apart and use floor markings to signal the adequate social distance.
  • Consider assigning certain hours, days or seating areas for seniors.
  • Reduce time in your restaurant by texting customers when seats become available, taking reservations and having customers pre order their meals before arriving.
  • Look into incorporating contactless payment methods to your restaurant to avoid touching cash or credit cards.
  • Make your health guidelines visible upon entering the restaurant.
  • Make sure you have a policy for people who refuse to comply with your health guidelines.

Hygiene and Sanitation

hygiene and sanitation for safe indoor dining

Maintaining the highest hygiene and sanitation standard is essential. To make sure indoor dining at restaurants remains possible, use signage to to remind staff to keep these rules:

  • Handwashing: Workers should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Make sure cooks wash their hands before, during and after preparing food. Always use gloves when throwing out the trash and wash hands afterwards.
  • Hand sanitizer: Make sure hand sanitizer is accessible to all people in the restaurant on tables and any point of contact. Encourage employees to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then use hand sanitizer.
  • Disinfectant supplies: Clean frequently touched surfaces like door handles, cash registers or workstations once a day. Prepare a scheduled disinfection routine so the issue is not neglected.
  • Shared Objects: Menus, condiments, and food containers increase the risk of contagion. Use disposable or digital menus, single serving condiments, and no-touch trash cans. Use a receipt tray for payment exchange or place on the counter to avoid hand to hand contact.

Using Technology to Monitor Indoor Dining

pos system for average order size

Technology goes a long way in helping restaurants stay safe with indoor dining. These solutions will allow you to keep your restaurant going and profitable both revenue and safety-wise.

  • Restaurant Reservation Systems: allow your customers to reserve a table in advance through the restaurant’s website, an app or a third-party platform. A reservation system helps you stick to capacity limits by monitoring the number of diners sitting in your restaurant.
  • Point of Sale: sophisticated, cloud-based POS systems today are used for a lot more than taking orders. They also include features like table and menu management as well as email marketing. An easy and fast interface is the most important feature your POS needs. It also needs to be affordable and compatible with all the relevant payment methods for your business.
  • Contactless Payments: these eliminate the need for physical contact between the diner and your workers. Debit cards, credit cards, or mobile wallets use radio-frequency identification to communicate with the payment reader.

Optimizing Your Inventory

cheetah truck for middle eastern cooking ingredients

With indoor dining back, restaurants are no longer limited to takeout and delivery options only. It’s time to reevaluate your inventory management. Cheetah is a wholesale food distributor for restaurants in the Bay Area. Here are a few Cheetah pro tips for efficient inventory:

  • Limit your menu: Limit and simplify your menu so you can order less inventory and make it easier for your cooks to keep up.
  • Keep track of sales: Pay close attention to meals that sell more, whether in the restaurant or as a takeout dish. Stock up your inventory with the ingredients you need to make those dishes.
  • Minimize excess and waste: Restaurant inventories often have excess food that goes to waste and this means money wasted.

Want to get your restaurant ready for the return of indoor dining? Download the app to start optimizing your operations today. 

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