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Last August, we reported on the new color-coded reopening plan that assigns California’s counties to 4 tiers based on the risk of viral transmission within the population. 

In May, the fantastic news we’ve all been waiting for finally came: San Francisco officially moved into the yellow tier (minimal risk), allowing indoor restaurants, bars, breweries, and wineries to reopen at 50% indoor capacity! In a matter of weeks, we believe other Bay Area counties will also reach Yellow Tier!

To help restaurant operators make the most of this exciting event, here are 3 things you can do to get your business ready for reopening.

Restaurant Reopening Requirements

The latest release from the Mayor’s office put the official guidelines for restaurant reopening into effect starting May 6. We recommend you read it here before reopening. 

  • Indoor Restaurants and Dining – Open at 50% capacity with up to 8 people allowed per table.  The cap of 200 people and 3 households per table is lifted.
  • Indoor bars, breweries, distilleries, and wineries (without meals) – Open at 25% capacity up to 100 people with an eight people cap per table.
  • Outdoor service distancing guidelines are still in place.

To comply with the requirements, make sure you abide by the Social Distancing Protocol and Health and Safety Plan checklists and post the appropriate signage (required posters). 

Once you have a grasp on your establishment’s total allowed capacity, give some thought to the following:

  1. Inventory stock
  2. Back of house staff
  3. Social distancing and a better dining experience

These 3 key pillars can make the difference between a streamlined restaurant reopening and a stalled one.

As a side-note, remember that although dine-in is back, delivery is here to stay. Ensure your systems, procedures, and staff are calibrated to handle both in parallel (e.g., kitchen layout, takeout utensils and packaging, reservation and ordering systems, etc.) and that you comply with the SF takeout and delivery guidelines

1. Stock Up on Inventory

The pandemic has brought us face to face with the vulnerabilities of the global supply chain in all industries. Food and beverage hospitality certainly felt the impact as shortages in products like Heinz ketchup, bubble tea, and even meat and poultry exposed just how intricate the dependencies are.

Local food producers and manufacturing facilities have been operating at reduced capacities and battling employee coronavirus outbreaks. Imported goods are in deficit due to many factors, including the US-China trade war, the recent blockage of the Suez Canal, and limited dock workers. 

The ecosystem is highly vulnerable, with many weak links. Still, as a restaurant operator facing reopening, all you need to do to navigate these challenging times is plan ahead while putting efficient systems in place. 

Start by revisiting your menu. Consider how dependent your business is on imported products, especially from the East, and explore what substitutes or adjustments can be made to source locally. 

Have a system to accurately determine your stock level and become an expert in the inventory par method. Your par is the minimum amount of inventory required to meet the demand from your customers while allowing a backup cushion in case of an unexpected demand surge.

Considering how the whole supply chain has been affected recently, you should increase your normal par levels and partner with a supplier that can offer:

  • Reliability
  • Flexibility
  • Stock variance 
  • and Speed

Need a restaurant supplier?

Talk to us to learn how Cheetah has been helping thousands of Bay Area restaurants with next-day delivery of all their supply needs.

2. Re-establish Your Back of House A-team

Even though 5-7 million American foodservice workers lost their jobs due to COVID-19, finding reliable staff for your restaurant’s reopening can be tricky. Many workers find it more economical to collect unemployment benefits for as long as possible, postponing returning to the foodservice job market.

Creative restaurant operators can turn this challenge into an opportunity to create a better work environment for their restaurant staff. 

For example, a lower dine-in capacity means less staff. By filling the critical positions with quality individuals who have diverse skills, restaurants should be able to pay them more. 

To attract a loyal, hard-working staff, find a way to offer more benefits, such as sick leave and career coaching. Not everything you offer needs to cost you money. Don’t underestimate how job security, career development, workplace culture, and flexibility can result in employee loyalty, especially to the younger generation. 

Once you’ve revamped your benefits package (remember – not necessarily fiscally), be flexible in the ways you search for employees. 

Try online sites such as Pared, ChefCrossing, Culinary Agents, and iHireChefs. Reach out to culinary schools and local community organizations.

Set up an Employee Referral Program and pay a bounty for your employees who bring new ones to the team. Something from $200 to $500 is a good start.

Coming Soon - Virtual Marketplace!

Get ready for restaurant reopening and save precious time for back-of-house staff by providing them with pre-cut produce. Starting later this May, all restaurant operators working with the Cheetah app will be able to order directly from Daylight Foods the highest quality pre-cut produce,

3. Design a New Dine-in Experience

After a year of COVID-19 successive lockdowns and isolations, many patrons are craving the social interaction restaurants can offer. Your restaurant reopening is one of the first indoor public spaces they will visit. And they expect to have a whole sensory experience, not a sterile food-tasting exercise. 

The ambiance, temperature, lighting, sound, and interaction with your staff all come into play. All these have a role in creating a wholesome, enjoyable customer journey.

Social distancing, too, can be achieved while still creating a delightful experience for guests. With 25%-50% capacity caps, where and how you place tables is essential, and it’s worth some experimentation. Don’t stick a table in the back near the restrooms just to over-distance it. 

When it comes to interactions with staff, every moment counts. Coaching your front-of-house team on warm but respectful client interactions, developing skills like evaluating standing distance and how to speak clearly through a mask, and of course, adherence to safety guidelines is paramount. 

After being seated, one of the first items your patrons will experience is the menu. Although QR codes meant goodbye to sticky menus, make sure to have backup printouts for those less tech-savvy clients. 

For those who do choose their dishes and drinks from a screen, the layout and variety of a digital menu are critical. There’s no black or white here, but tiny fonts, endless scrolling, unclear pricing, and of course, broken links will not lead to more orders.

Finally, control how and when cleanliness meets your guests. Remember, you’re in hospitality – not a hospital, and it’s a delicate balance. What do seated guests experience when your staff is heavily spraying down tables and chairs after a party has just left? Sometimes just a few thoughtful changes in procedure, timing, and tools can make all the difference.

Get All the Help You Can

At Cheetah, we invest every ounce of energy in making it easy for you to focus on the core of running your business. 

Contact us for easy, effective, and fast solutions for all your supplies needs.

For more ideas and practical checklists, download our free Complete Guide to Reopening your Restaurant.

Be sure to keep an eye on our blog for more updates and resources, like the breakdown of the restaurant revitalization fund – coming soon! 

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