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Rethinking a Restaurant Team: Staffing for 2021 and Beyond

Trust20 Contributors

February 24, 2021

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Reduced capacity, a change in hours, increased safety regulations, and new employee concerns are only some of the new responsibilities and priorities restaurants are facing. Some of these are temporary, directly impacted by sales volume and regulations, while others may permanently change the staffing model of the hospitality industry. These changes pose new questions and opportunities for operators. 

Navigate these changes with a list of new roles, as well as strategies for filling these roles, as you rebuild your team and deliver a safer dining experience - without sacrificing the quality of that experience. Each new role and responsibility in this list will fill a gap created by the changing landscape of the foodservice industry. Depending on your restaurant’s needs and resources, the different roles highlighted below can be combined, outsourced, or become entirely new hires. 

ALERT: Starting February 24, small businesses with fewer than twenty employees will be allowed to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program loans for a 14-day period. 

Greeter or Concierge 

Some restaurants such as Sweet Green and Hampton Social in Chicago are placing employees at the entrance of their restaurant to welcome and communicate new procedures with diners about the updated guest experience. 

Responsibilities could include:

  • New ordering processes 
  • Cleaning and sanitization procedures 
  • New staff roles and how they can help guests 
  • How guests can move throughout the restaurant
  • Updated safety protocols
  • Guest behavior expectations 

A front door greeter will create the first interaction your diners have with your restaurant, so make it count! Show your restaurant’s hospitality by offering hand sanitizer upon arrival or other safety amenities, like bags to hold masks while your customers are seated at their table. Depending on your establishment’s needs, the greeter may also reinforce safety protocols and procedures including guest temperature checks and mask requirements. 

Off-Premise Manager or Carry-Out Coordinator 

Between limited capacity and decreased diner demand, restaurants relying solely on dine-in revenue is no longer a viable option. An off-premise experience needs to be at the center of your business, and implementing an off-premise manager will ensure efficiency and a great diner experience. 

Responsibilities could include:

  • Managing third party or home delivery platforms 
  • Managing incoming and outgoing orders 
  • Staging orders for pick-up
  • Double-checking orders are correct and include the proper utensils and condiments 
  • Implementing safety procedures like packaging and seals 
  • Handling customer complaints and feedback 

Food and Safety Manager 

COVID-19 has ushered in a variety of new regulations set forth by governing bodies, and diners are looking to restaurants to provide a welcoming and safe environment for their return. This means putting someone in charge of your restaurant’s food and safety experience may be a valuable investment. 

Responsibilities could include:  

  • Stocking and supplying PPE to employees
  • Monitoring regulations 
  • Updating processes and training 
  • Overseeing safety changes to the restaurant
  • Taking staff temperatures 
  • Enforcing new standards and rules with staff and guests 

David Chang’s Momofuku Group shared their Safety Manager responsibilities for others to consider and replicate.

Social Distancing Ambassador 

Social distancing ambassadors can help diners remember to keep their distance from other guests. Edmund’s Oast in Charleston, SC created social distancing “lifeguards,” that sit on a traditional lifeguard post and whistle at anyone violating their social distancing policy. It stays true to their beachy brand, and brings an element of fun to a serious role. 

Responsibilities could include:  

  • Enforcing social distancing rules with guests 
  • Maintaining correct foot traffic flow 
  • Providing guests with hand sanitizer 
  • Communication guest behavior expectations 

Cleaning Captain 

Take a page from Just Salads and introduce a cleaning captain role. Cleaning captains are responsible for keeping the restaurant clean and sanitized for both diners and staff in accordance with CDC regulations. They sanitize high-touch areas in 20-30 minute cycles, while rotating between the front and back of house. 

Responsibilities could include:

  • Frequently sanitizing high touch areas such as door handles 
  • Sanitizing front of house technology 
  • Sanitizing tables after guest visits 
  • Sanitizing back of house

Marketing and Digital Presence Coordinator 

As diners continue to stay at home, maintaining a strong digital presence is a crucial part of engaging customers. Stay top of mind with social media marketing, keep diners informed through an always up-to-date website, and drive traffic via 3rd party platforms like Yelp, Eaterbird, and various delivery apps. Consider having a talented team member be responsible for your online presence, utilizing free tools online to get started, such as the digital marketing guide

Responsibilities could include:  

  • Creating promotions 
  • Managing social media  
  • Updating website & 3rd party platforms 
  • Email campaigns 
  • Tracking customer feedback 

Having a strong digital presence with loyal followers can require a substantial amount of time and effort. If you prefer to outsource this type of work, check out companies like Sociavore, that help you set up an online footprint with ease. Knowing when to bring an expert in will support your operational efficiency!

With dining room capacity still limited in most states, a crucial component of a restaurant maintaining profitability will be keeping labor cost low. That can make introducing new roles and responsibilities challenging and restaurant operators will want to ensure they are using staff effectively and efficiently. 

Management can accomplish this by shifting the focus of existing roles and creating dual roles. These two strategies will help businesses mitigate costs, engage more team members, and manage new tasks. This also offers employees an opportunity to work additional hours and subsidize some of their lost income. There is a delicate balance of considerations when it comes to hiring, training, scheduling and beyond - establishing consistent procedures will help operators move forward with greater ease.

Operators should be clear and kind about the details of their staff expectations because this transparency will help make employees comfortable with the restaurant’s safety solutions. The changes to the staffing model of the hospitality industry are here to stay, and restaurant operators should continue to remain agile as they look to re-building their team structures in the months and years to come.

About Trust20

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.

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