Restaurant ‘Possible’ in the Time of Covid-19

July 23, 2020 by Drew Smith

As Covid-19 cases spike in many states across the U.S., small- to mid-size businesses are finding it especially tough to keep pace with the shifting tide of public health recommendations and regulations. Among the first business sectors to re-open, restaurants are on the front line of the pandemic. With each passing week, restaurant owners must balance concern for the health of their employees and patrons, along with the economic feasibility of new business models and—increasingly—the possibility of additional closures and restrictions.

Staying Nimble

“Despite these unprecedented challenges, we’ve seen remarkable examples of ingenuity here in Wilmington and the beaches,” said Kevin Oberman, V.P. of Sales at Copiers Plus. “Some restaurants that were primarily dine-in have shifted exclusively to curbside pick-up and delivery. That might sound simple but there are lots of moving parts to this transition, a lot of changes in operations, communications, and technology.”

This may involve creating around-the-clock shifts to accommodate social distancing for employees prepping food and to meet the increased demands and quick turn-around on carry-out orders. While many restaurants streamlined their ordering processes with apps like GrubHub, DoorDash, and Seamless, long before the pandemic, contactless ordering and payment has taken on much greater significance now.

Paper Please

For restaurants offering outdoor seating, a transition from laminated to disposable menus is a safer option. Desk-top printers are being pressed into service for this application, along with on-the-fly communications with staff about changing protocols. In the Kyocera ECOSYS series, mobile printing gives restaurant owners the flexibility of wireless/remote access in an affordable, compact product line.

Communications is Key

According to a recent post on Eater: “Broadly, restaurants are encouraged—or ordered—to reduce capacity and space out tables, but the exact rules vary from state to state, and with no universal guidance, restaurants are left to design their own protocols for creating safe spaces for their employees and customers.” This makes communications one of the most important aspects of operating a restaurant through the Covid-19 crisis.

The marketing platform Constant Contact recommends frequent, clearly articulated messaging for both employees and patrons.

These updates should contain basic information like:

  • Changes to your restaurant’s hours
  • Updated service availability (likely takeout and/or delivery only)
  • Precautions you’re taking to keep customers safe

Keeping it Local

One restaurant staple in Wilmington has embraced this robust communications strategy by using an app for no-contact customer ordering and by having employees post daily updates to the restaurant’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

National Sources

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend on-site signs and messaging in highly visible locations like entrances and restrooms, promoting protective measures like hand-washing and the proper use of face coverings. Restaurant owners can access free CDC print and digital resources at the bars and restaurant page, as well as on CDC’s communications resources main page.

“While the dynamics change from day to day,” said Oberman, “our goal is to support our customers through this challenging time. We see Copiers Plus as a resource for organizations large and small. Keeping employees and customers safe and healthy while promoting smart business practices—that’s the bottom line.”