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Is your restaurant ready for winter?

Delivering a safe dining experience that aligns with local guidelines has never been more challenging, and requires an agile, comprehensive approach.
outdoor heat lamp
Photograph: Shutterstock

As outdoor dining rapidly becomes impractical in much of the country, restaurant operators are facing more tough questions as they fight to stay open. Carefully considering the strategies they can implement to provide a safe environment for their employees and diners can also help minimize the impact on their business.

Take a look at these best practices for operating in the coming months. 

Get creative with outdoor spaces

Operators are investing in patio heaters and taking other steps to shield diners from the cold. Ninetwentyfive, a restaurant in Wayzata, Minn., installed four plastic igloos to its patio, each with its own heater, with the intention of serving up to eight customers at a time in each of them throughout the winter, according to local reports. It also added retractable cloth shades on its outdoor balconies to retain heat. Other restaurants have added fire pits and covered their patios with tents.

Upgrade off-premise offerings

The winter months bring increased demand for delivery, and this season will likely increase those demands even more. Operators need to ensure their systems are optimized for an influx in delivery orders.

Many restaurants are creating dedicated, no-contact pickup areas for third-party delivery drivers. At the same time, restaurants should be fine-tuning their systems for drive-thru, curbside pickup and walk-up orders. Burger chain Shake Shack, for example, said it will install new, dedicated pickup windows—both inside and outside of its stores—that it expects will encourage digital ordering and off-premise dining even after dining rooms reopen.

Operators should also emphasize the opportunity for diners to pre-order through a mobile app or website, which will streamline the on-premise experience and minimize interactions among staff and customers. 

Clearly Communicate with Employees and Diners

Restaurant operators not only need to stay on top of ever-changing safety recommendations and restrictions, but they also need to create systems that incorporate these rules and then communicate the new operating procedures and the reasons behind them to their team members. Some operators have been conducting meetings at the start of each shift to review and update safety protocols. When diners can actively see a restaurant taking steps to protect their safety, they are more likely to continue to frequent that establishment.

Operators can meet a higher standard of health and safety in their operating procedures by leveraging the training, communications materials and certification available from Trust20 from Relish Works. The program includes 20 tactics in four categories that include cleaning and sanitizing; social distancing; employee health and safety; and diner health and safety.

Not sure how to prepare for the months ahead? Learn more about Trust20 and see how they can help you deliver a safer dining experience.

This post is sponsored by Trust20

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