5 Ways to Adapt Restaurant Operations for COVID-19

It’s safe to say that amid the COVID-19 crisis, things are rough for small businesses, especially restaurants. Restaurant owners all over the country are thinking outside the box to help keep their businesses afloat during these turbulent times. Here are five ways restaurants are getting creative and continuing to earn revenue and will inspire you to do the same.

1. Provide Make-at-Home Meal Kits

One of the easiest and most innovative ways to continue sales at your restaurant is to provide customers with the ingredients they need to make your signature dishes. All you have to do is package up the ingredients, print any special instructions, set a price, and start advertising your product. Adding this option to your new business strategy allows customers to enjoy their favorite, authentic dishes while still being able to prepare them at home.

These are some restaurants around the country that are offering kitting ingredients to their customers:

  • Stoke Pizza Coal Fire & Grille, Pennsylvania:
    This small restaurant located in Easton, Pennsylvania, is known for its pizza. They’re putting together all of the ingredients needed to make their famous pizzas and offering the kits for takeout and delivery.
  • Siena Tavern, Illinois:
    This restaurant launched “Siena Scratch Kitchen” under which they offer make-at-home pasta and pizza kits. These kits include a variety of pasta types and sauces to choose from, as well as pizza dough, sauce, toppings, and cheeses for customers to customize to their liking.
  • Nekter Juice Bar:
    While Nekter Juice Bar is a chain, they’re also relying on new ways to give customers a simple way to make their favorite juices and smoothies at home. Their most popular smoothies are available ready to blend with the liquid base of the customer’s choice.
  • Guerilla Tacos, California:
    A Los Angeles favorite, Guerilla Tacos, is packing up all their famous taco ingredients into “Emergency Kits” to give their customers their favorite taco fix to enjoy in the safety of their homes. You can’t have tacos without margaritas, so of course, this is an option that you can choose to add to your kit.
  • Fat Rice, Illinois:
    Fat Rice is creating kits for their customers to make their menu items at home. They’re offering kits that supply three meals for two people.

2. Offer Takeout Order Incentives to Customers

With everything going on and stay-at-home orders being enforced, regular customers are becoming more fearful of leaving their houses. As restaurateurs, you’re aware that being extra cautious and sanitary during these times is of the utmost importance to your customers.

Not only do you want to assure customers that you’re taking extra precautions, but you can also offer incentives for takeout and delivery orders. Offering simple incentives takes your services a step further. It shows customers you genuinely care about them in this time of need. Incentives can include anything from a free roll of toilet paper while supplies last, to a discount on their next order.

3. Make Necessary Menu Modifications

The truth is that while you might have perfected your menu, you’re probably going to need to make some adjustments during this crisis. Finding ways to cut back on your regular menu (without compromising customer favorites) provides some additional relief on inventory cost. Additionally, creating a compressed menu will cut back on food waste at a time you need it the most.

A simple way to find customer favorites, cut back on waste, and determine your most profitable items is to use reports from your Point of Sale (POS) system. POS reports will help you answer all these questions and identify ways to help you stay profitable.

4. Redirect Your Business

Many small business owners are going back to the drawing board. They are coming up with ideas on how they can make their businesses better, while also helping out their communities. As you’re probably aware, hand sanitizer is a hot commodity these days. High demand and low inventory make it difficult for families and people on the front lines to get their hands on any.

Enter your local brewery. Craft breweries and distilleries all over the U.S. are switching gears from making beer and other spirits, to making hand sanitizer. With the ingredients and facilities already at their disposal, they’re able to pivot their business while simultaneously providing the necessities their communities need to stay healthy.

5. Customer Experience and Efficiency

Providing an excellent dining experience might be a thing of the past (for now), but that doesn’t mean you can’t extend it to your new business model for takeout and delivery. During this operational shift, you want your new way of doing business to be as smooth and efficient as possible.

Pay-at-the-Table Technology Moves Curbside

As you’re redirecting your business’ focal point from tableside to curbside, utilize technology to make the transition easier. Pay-at-table devices, such as SkyTab, can be your saving grace during the pandemic. Leverage these devices to help you, your employees, and customers easily complete curbside transactions.

Online Ordering

If your restaurant is not set up to take online orders, now is the time to do so. As consumers shut their doors on the outside world, they’re relying more and more on electronic devices for online ordering.

Whether you add online ordering directly to your website or leverage a third-party delivery service like DoorDash, you need to be present where your customers are spending their time. At home in quarantine, a lot of that time is on the internet.

Check with your point of sale provider to determine what type of service they can provide to help you facilitate online orders. If you’re looking for a quick and easy solution, SkyTab Takeout from Shift4 Payments is a great way to go. A completely free, standalone online ordering solution with a self-guided setup wizard, SkyTab Takeout will have you accepting online orders in no time.

The Bottom Line

The coronavirus has thrown a curveball at the entire world, and there’s no doubt it will have a lasting impact on all of us. Nevertheless, if your business can weather the storm by making a few creative changes, your chances of coming out on the other side of this will greatly increase.


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