Foodservice Industry

Reopening After a Crisis

When disaster strikes, whether that be a natural disaster or a pandemic, a temporary closure may be needed.  The novel coronavirus has caused many businesses financial burdens and has put others out of business. Reopening seems doable now than it did at the start of the year.

Restaurants have adapted to a pandemic by offering things like curbside takeout or having a delivery option. Going into the summer months, states have started to ease up on the restrictions set in place when the pandemic started. Here is our informative guide on how to effectively reopen your restaurant.

Sanitize Your Restaurant

Waitress with a mask disinfects the table of an outdoor bar, café or restaurant, reopen after quarantine restrictions

Sanitizing your restaurant is key to reopening because it stops the spread of germs and prevents the spread of COVID-19. When reopening, you’re going to want to thoroughly clean and sanitize the entire facility, especially if it’s been closed. Local, state, and federal regulators use the FDA food code to update their own safety rules to be as consistent as possible. Here are some of the requirements of the food code that apply to coronavirus mitigation:

  • Prohibiting sick employees in the workplace
  • Strict handwashing practices that include how and when to wash hands
  • Strong procedures and practices to clean and sanitize surfaces
  • Ensuring the person in charge of a foodservice facility is a certified food safety manager.
  • Ensuring the person in charge is on-site at all times during operating hours.

Here are some general tips for cleaning and sanitizing your restaurant:

  • Wash and rinse food contact surfaces, food preparation surfaces, and beverage equipment after use.
  • Avoid all food contact surfaces when using disinfectants.
  • Check restrooms regularly and clean and sanitize them based on the frequency of use.
  • Avoid sharing items such as menus, condiments, and food orders. Use disposable or digital menus; toss disposable menus after each use.

Check Your Equipment

After sanitizing your restaurant the next thing you’ll want to do is check to see if your equipment is still running. It’s suggested that you turn on your equipment weeks in advance. It will make sure that all your equipment is working effectively. If something breaks, you’ll have the opportunity to replace it before reopening your restaurant. Turn on all refrigerating equipment to make sure that it’s 40 °F or below. Freezers should be at or below 0 °F.


Fresh organic vegetables assortment viewed from above on wooden background, packed in reusable eco-friendly fabric bags. Groceries from local market banner concept

Find all of your items that have expiration dates. Things such as fruits, vegetables, and dairy maybe have gone bad during this time. Being proactive during a disaster can help you out finacially. If you’re unsure when your restaurant will open again, don’t buy any fresh produce. Contact your local vendors to make sure that they’ll have the items you’ll need to fully restock again.

Social Distancing

Social Distancing

Following the six feet rule per CDC, updating floor plans and limiting parties minimizes the risk of getting COVID-19. Here are some tips for reopening with social distancing:

  • Provide physical guides such as tape on floors or sidewalks to ensure that customers remain at least six feet apart in lines or ask customers to wait in their cars or away from the establishment while waiting to dine or pick up food.
  • Install physical barriers, such as sneeze guards and partitions at cash registers, bars, host stands, and other areas where maintaining a physical distance of six feet is difficult.
  • Post signage at the entrance that states that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 is to be permitted in the restaurant.
  • Provide hand sanitizer for guests to use, including contactless hand sanitizing stations, and post signs reminding guests about social distancing. Thank them for their patience as you work to ensure their safety.

Host a Soft Opening

After meeting requirements set by your local government and the FDA, have a soft open. Soft openings involve minimal advertising and involve a smaller crowd than usual. Through a soft opening, restaurants can have new menu items as well as feel out how many people they feel comfortable in their restaurant. You can test out new POS systems and train your staff on how to take orders and serve food.

If your soft reopening is successful, start to advertise on socials that you’re reopening to the public. When you reopen, use the knowledge and feedback gained from your soft opening to successfully reopen in a limited area.

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