Now is the Time for Agility, Collaboration, and Communication

With several states closing schools, bars, restaurants, and others closing all establishments all together, more closures seem imminent across the country.  There are still many unknowns as to the severity and the timeline for COVID-19 to take its course. It has become much of a waiting game, while those not infected work hard to remain that way, as current cases slowly but surely are resolved.
In the interim, we all must all make difficult decisions.  Restaurants and bars face a unique challenge.  In the spirit of avoiding furloughs, entertainment venues must make novel changes to their operations to adhere to the new legal and safety standards.
What does that mean for restaurants and bars?
Many traditionally sit-in restaurants are offering take-out options. This is optimal for several reasons.  It allows the restaurant to continue to operate, which is good for employer and employee alike.  This doesn’t come without challenges.

Restaurants face unique challenges. 

Much of the restaurant industry will be challenged with a take out or delivery option to remain operational. 
  • For pickups, make arrangements for the person ordering to text a number when they arrive.
  • Select a “drop-off” location outside to minimize human to human contact.
  • The same goes for delivery. Leave the food outside to avoid human contact.
  • Work with your supply chain to see what is available and identify any options that may be cost prohibitive. Simplicity is they key here.
  • Simplify the menu to streamline ingredient procurement.
  • Serve food at the appropriate temperature (HOT is ideal) to destroy any possible pathogens.
  • Get back to basics. Offer 2 spreads: a meat option and a vegetarian option.
  • Create a simple, family-style options, ie. Tuesday: spaghetti and meatballs, eggplant parm.
  • Create a schedule for each day of the week so patrons know what is coming up and can plan around it.
  • Accept only credit cards. Passing money back and forth passes more than just payment. It can contaminate hands and other currency in the till.
  • Continually sanitize hands and any part that may touch a common surface, like a register or payment portal.
  • Collaborate, communicate, cooperate.  Work with nearby restaurants to coordinate menus. If possible, create one menu with each of the simple options from restaurants in your vicinity and share on each website.
  • Remain flexible.  Look into options for wine and beer services as well to be paired with meals where it is available. Establishments offering alcohol will have a leg-up on those that do not.
  • Consider gift cards to attract repeat visits.  Perhaps $75 for a $100 gift card.  This gets the register ringing and helps both the restaurant and the patron.
  • Keep a sense of humor!  We are all in this together!

Bars face similar challenges. 

Following many of the principles above, bars have additional considerations and opportunities to make the most of this challenge.
  • Beer/wine/alcohol delivery and pick-up where it is available/legal.
  • Some breweries and distilleries are finding creative ways to use their resources.  A distillery in Durham, NC is “distilling” hand sanitizer. Talk about flexibility to serve a need!
  • Offer simple options.
Regardless of the entertainment venue, staying agile, collaborating with suppliers and other establishments and communicating with patrons, suppliers and industry partners is key to getting past this speed bump with as little impact as possible, given the circumstances.