Business Insights

Welcome Your Customers Home: Restaurant Re-Opening Guidelines

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As restaurants across the country begin to re-open to in-house dining, they will be faced with new rules, regulations and consumer expectations. From sanitation guidelines, social distancing rules, and touchless technologies and solutions, menu simplification, and staffing, Shamrock Foods has pulled together our recommendations to consider when re-opening your restaurant to your community.

Sanitation and Safety Guidelines

Sanitation is one of the most important factors in ensuring consumers feel comfortable to dine with your establishment. Research indicates that visible sanitation cues and clear social distancing practices are essential.

Assuring Healthy Employees

  • Communicate to your employees that if they are sick, or have a temperature of 100 degrees or higher, they should remain home. Signage near schedule postings and checking in stations should be posted stating this expectation. Ensure all employees know that if they present signs of illness during their shift, they are expected to communicate this to their manager. Per CDC guidelines, employees should not return to work for at least seven days from the onset of symptoms and be symptom-free for three days without medication.

  • Check with your state and local jurisdictions for regulations specific to face coverings. If they are required, or if you have determined to require them for your restaurant, ensure they are kept clean in accordance with CDC guidelines.

  • Refresh training materials to reinforce the importance of frequent hand washing. Outline specifics regarding handwashing frequency expectations, and the mandated use of hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol after all touches at customer tables.

  • Consider smaller sub-groups or digital communication for larger staff pre-shift meetings. Place restrictions or rotations on break areas.

  • Re-evaluate service approach with guests and minimize the amount of contact guests have with servers, while still maintaining a welcoming atmosphere.

  • Communicate expectations and procedures to elevate the frequency and method in which the back of house surfaces are cleaned. Ensure all food contact surfaces are cleaned with proper detergents, and do not have contact with disinfectant chemicals.

Providing a safe environment for guests

  • Ensure at least 6 feet between tables and booths by redesigning the floorplan. Take into account waiting areas, distance between service areas and takeout and delivery stations.

  • Confirm if local or state regulations have established a maximum party size, and ensure the tables reflect this mandate.

  • Consider shifting in-house dining to reservation-only, using an online tool. This will help to alleviate congestion in waiting areas, etc.

  • Post clear directions for guests and delivery drivers that are picking up orders or arriving to dine-in. This will limit congregation in entryways and bar areas. The process can include floor markings, outdoor waiting areas, etc.

  • Consider glass or plexiglass partitions between seating areas, and at payment and service stations.

  • Incorporate low-touch, no-touch options including mobile ordering, digital or one-use menus, electronic reservations, contactless payment.

  • Provide readily-available hand sanitizer for guests to use. Individual use, or contactless stations are preferred.

  • Remove table top condiments, and limit the use of self-service drink stations.

  • Tabletops and digital ordering devices should be cleaned after each guest. If you continue using reusable menus and check covers instead of shifting to digital options, these need to be cleaned with each use, as well. Single-use items should be discarded.

  • Try to limit access to self-serve areas, but if this is not possible, frequently change, wash and sanitize utensils.

Staffing Up: A Return to In-House Dining

Now is the time to begin reaching out to your staff that you would like to return to your restaurant. Following these five steps will help you ramp up staffing for the return to in-house dining.

Make the Connection

  • Check-In with displaced staff
    • Are you tracking who's coming back and who has moved on?
    • Identify a mix of staff considering increased takeout and delivery numbers and a dining room with maximized space or reduced tables and seats.
  • Map out timeline for needed staff preparation prior to Grand Re-Opening
    • Plan shifts based on revised operating hours and business mix (to-go, delivery, in-house)
  • Determine how much recruitment will need to occur beyond bringing back former staff
    • Where are the gaps in staffing – or who are you missing? Cooks? Servers? Hosts that will double as ambassadors and sanitation techs?
    • Consider shifting a person to cleanliness/sanitation of customer and employee surfaces.
    • Plan on targeting double the number you need in recruitment – as only about half make it to completion of training.

Identify Staff Mix

  • Create a mock operations plan (deployment chart or section map) with stations and duties
    • Define each employee's primary duty and section of responsibility.
    • Do you have enough staff to accommodate the continued demand for takeout and delivery?
  • Identify if a simplified menu has effect on staff
    • Does your simplified menu require a new prep list and/or kitchen staffing?
    • Does your BOH schedule need to change with less traditional prep, more family-meal production and more to-go in the product mix?

    Plan Shifts

    • Base shifts on revised operating hours and business mix (to-go, delivery, In-house)
      • Do you have staff to manage third-party delivery apps?
      • Do you have staff to handle increased phone orders and curbside pick-up?
    • Reconsider the operations plan
      • Identify a takeout captain to manage staffing and to generate training materials.
    • Define your new service style
      • Have you moved away from full-service to limited or quick service to optimize labor costs?
    • Create a mock shift schedule
      • Have you calculated the number of people you need?
      • Determine labor cost, breakeven and forecasting using our Break Even calculator found on our website.

      Streamline Onboarding

      • Streamline your onboarding and payroll processing platforms
        • I-9, 8850 and other paperwork should be online and efficient to complete.
        • Save money and time by automating these processes.
      • Set up a cloud-based solution
        • This allows for payroll to be done remotely.
        • Employees can now finish their orientation at home and be ready to start work on day one.

            Refresh Training

            • Emphasize sanitation and epidemic prevention
              • Determine what new dress policies need to be put in place.
            • Put yourself in your customer's shoes
              • Follow your customer's journey from car, through the door to the table, etc.
              • Identify areas that need to be sanitized regularly.
              • Consider if any items can be switched out to single-use items (i.e., condiments).

                  Functions and optics of staffing up are more important than ever, but by leveraging your team you can create, train and enforce new policies.

                  The Shamrock Foods Breakeven Calculator can help inform decisions while navigating the changing regulations. Enter fixed costs in addition to seats, capacity, table turns, as well as takeout and delivery revenue to guide staffing and menu decisions to ensure maximum profitability.

                  Visit to download the calculator.

                  Planning your Re-Opening Menu

                  Although many consumers are excited about returning to in-house dining, recent data indicates that 50% of consumers will still rely on takeout and delivery as a way to get their favorite dishes.* So, as restaurants begin to focus on re-opening to in-house dining, ensure your menu accounts for these 6 key criteria.
                  *Datassential, April 2020

                  • A smaller, easier executable menu that also satisfies takeout and delivery

                  • Low-contact / No-contact service touchpoints for in-house dining, as well as takeout and delivery

                  • Family-meal preparations will still be in high demand

                  • Ensure you're communicating about your updated menu features on social media and other channels

                  • Review menu financials and food cost

                  Of Consumers have no problem with restaurants offering a reduced menu initially upon reopening
                  Of Consumers would be disappointed with restaurants offering a reduced menu initially upon reopening

                  For more help analyzing your menu, visit or reach out to your Shamrock Foods Sales Representative to set up a consultation with our restaurant consultants and chefs.

                  Takeout Best Practices

                  Many consumers will continue to seek takeout and delivery options from the operations they know and trust. Make sure these things are accounted for in your operation.

                  • Set up online ordering for takeout and delivery
                    • Use QR codes and online menus
                  • Test travel time for freshness of items
                  • Limit delivery radius to ensure freshness
                  • Designate staff to facilitate takeout
                  • Find the right containers for takeout and delivery
                  • Hot and cold items should be packed in separate bags
                  • Separate sauces to prevent sogginess
                  • Package food specifically for transit
                  • Clearly label all containers
                  • Require staff to check items in bag
                  • Use safety seals for 3rd party deliveries
                  • Include bounce back/marketing offers in to-go bags
                  • Conduct a touchless payment option
                  • Make the receipt visible
                  • Reserve curbside spots for takeout
                  • Include wayfinding signs
                    • Sign of Life (Outside)
                    • Flow (Pick up order here)
                    • Social Distancing
                    • Curbside Markers

                  • Keep front door open to ensure no touch
                  • Designate counter space for pickup
                  • Sanitize all pens and utensils used

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