The restaurant industry is facing more unpredictable situations than ever before - the pressure that restaurant operators are feeling is enormous. While the impulse may be to panic or make rapid decisions, restaurants have always survived uncertainty because their teams have a creative tenacity that is entirely unique to hospitality employees. As we roll into the holiday season, the hustle and bustle of celebration is going to look different. There are plenty of opportunities for your restaurant to succeed - so slow down, use these six ideas to brainstorm, and make your next move from a place of confidence.
1. Identify ways to save money.
Consider reducing your menu items so that your ingredients are used efficiently across all of your dishes.
2. Explore ways to repurpose staff for new roles.
Identify opportunities to utilize staff in a different role than before. Addo, a Puerto Rican restaurant in Seattle used its own staff to make drop-offs rather than relying on a third party delivery service. This can help keep staff employed while also not losing money from labor cost.
Check out Rethink your Labor: new roles for the COVID era for more ideas.
3. Explore new menu items and revenue streams.
Use this downtime in the dining room to brainstorm ways to bring in revenue. Consider building family meal kits, creating a pop-up location, selling popular pantry items, or packaging up your staple items for consumers to purchase. The Alibi in Washington, D.C. is offering multiple prepared meal kits for pick up or free delivery to D.C. addresses. The restaurant is even providing a roll of toilet paper with the meal kit.
4. Determine ways to connect with consumers outside of the restaurant.
Face-to-face interactions with consumers are difficult to replace, but the shelter-in-place brought to light many great virtual options to help keep people connected. Restaurants can leverage this trend and create ways to connect with consumers such as a cooking class or happy hours through a platform like Virtual Dining Chicago. The Refectory Restaurant and Wine Shop in Columbus, OH has hosted a Virtual Dinner Music Series throughout the pandemic on their Facebook page.
Check out our guide How to Create a Virtual Dining Experience to learn more.
5. Communicate loudly and clearly why dining-in isn’t allowed.
Restaurants like Chicago favorites Lula Cafe, Baker Miller, and Giant are keeping their dining rooms closed in order to keep not only their consumers but also staff safe. Diners are continuously comparing restaurants to each other to figure out what they believe is the right standard for dining out right now. Being a restaurant that stays closed because of safety concerns could help gain more loyal and new customers.
6. Optimize off-premise dining options.
Most consumers are really appreciating — and even enjoying! — curbside pick-up, efficient drive-thru's, and expanded delivery options. Stacia, in Los Angeles, even said she has seen restaurants stepping up their game with takeout. Consumers have been impressed with Wendy’s, California Chicken Cafe, Shake Shack, and Chick-fil-a. “I can't get takeout all the time, but it was a really, really great customer service and I loved it,” said Stacia, describing her experience at Shake Shack. Many in the industry also believe curbside pick-up, when done right, will be the most profitable off-premise source of revenue for operators.
Check out this guide for advice on how to best optimize your off-premise experience.
Trust20 is the new standard of restaurant safety and diner comfort, based on 20 tactics by health and safety experts. Supported by Gordon Food Service and General Mills, Trust20 provides an independently verified certification of restaurant practices, training, and other resources to help restaurants create safe, healthy, and welcome spaces for diners. www.trust20.co, @Trust20USA