; Is this the new normal for reopening restaurants? | RSVP Insider


Is this the "new normal" for reopening restaurants?

Disposable menus, reduced tables, and servers with masks and gloves.

BY RSVP April 22,2020

The saddest part of a stroll down a street in any city was the closure of the ubiquitous array of restaurants, big and small, from foldable stalls to three-story chandelier-dangling establishments. Now that there is a chance that restaurants will be allowed to reopen soon, they’ll have to follow strict precautionary measures in their dining rooms and kitchens for the foreseeable future.

All over the world, governments are outlining a set of policies to be enacted at restaurants once the countries' stay-at-home orders are lifted, including taking customer temperatures at the door, requiring servers to wear masks and gloves, reducing the number of tables by 50% to increase physical distancing and providing disposable menus.

Should we follow China's example?

As the situation has improved in China, restaurants are beginning to restore their dine-in service while carrying out strict epidemic prevention measures. (Although restaurants are struggling and there is fear among small business owners, according to Bloomberg).

At lunchtime, masked diners have their temperatures checked and hands disinfected before entering a restaurant and sitting at separate tables to fulfill their appetites after being cooped up at home for months. Diners also need to maintain a distance of no less than 1 meter in queues and dinner parties with over 50 guests are not allowed.

The end of the lockdown in the Chinese cities, however, hasn’t brought relief to restaurants, just a new set of challenges. Strict virus containment measures and difficulties resuming work make fully resuming dine-in service unrealistic for many restaurateurs. Hospitality businesses across China have been forced to innovate in terms of menus and marketing channels in order to make ends meet by scaling up online.

It's not only about disinfecting tables and wearing masks. For example, many chefs have to change their menus more drastically than others and adjust their dishes to serve much smaller portions to match the demands of customers eating in smaller groups. 

5 ways to prepare your restaurant for reopening after the coronavirus pandemic

1. Keep promoting gift vouchers and experiences

The revenue from gift cards is going to help keep you afloat with cash now without having to provide something in return until things start to get better. (See how you can easily sell gift vouchers with RSVP here)

2. Control your costs

Start looking deeper into your statements to better understand where your money is going to make better decisions now and in the future.

Resist the temptation of offering too many discounts to your guests. "Discounts are double the murder," says Monika Biedrzycka, managing partner of AdComms. "It is a tool to be used with caution and moderately, as it is borrowing from future revenue."

3. Maintain communication with guests

Use social media. A lot. 

Even if your restaurant is currently shut down due to the coronavirus, keeping your restaurant top-of-mind for guests is crucial to winning back their business when it’s time to reopen. Keep telling your customers what's going on. Share photos or videos on your social media teaching knife skills, basic recipes, or showing a new recipe you are developing. 

4. Make the most out of delivery and takeout

Don’t ditch the new takeout and/or delivery system you’ve put in place the second you’re allowed to fully reopen – people may still be looking for it.

(Follow the instructions below to quickly set up a takeout service for your establishment without contracts and hefty fees by using RSVP’s event ticketing tool. You can get this going in a few minutes.)

5. Look for opportunities

Now it's the time to take the opportunity to learn how to better manage food costs, revamp your menu, and widen your margins, while business is slow and you have less inventory coming in.

RSVP is here to help with a relief package to help the dining industry. See how you and your business can get it here.