Operator's Edge | Guest Safety: 9 Tips for Safe Indoor Dining

Guest Safety: 9 Tips for Safe Indoor Dining

Nothing is more important in the restaurant industry right now than guest and employee safety.

Ask yourself this: Do you feel confident that you and your team are taking all the right precautions and following set guidelines?

Then ask yourself: Will your guests see and feel those safety measures?

It’s one thing to put certain practices in place in the kitchen, it’s another to make sure your guests can see them in action, read about them, and hear about them from your employees.

So, as COVID-19 restrictions begin to relax and you begin serving guests indoors again, recognize that many people will, understandably, feel concerned about the risk of exposure.

As tired as your guests are of eating at home, and as much as they miss your food, employees, and ambiance—they need to feel safe when they walk through your doors.

While the coronavirus may challenge us for the foreseeable future, our industry continues to find innovative ways to help guests feel safe while eating out.

Here are some strategies that can help improve public trust and confidence in your restaurant’s commitment to safety:

1. Update business websites and social media pages to provide clear information about how your restaurant goes above and beyond local health and safety recommendations to provide a safe and enjoyable dining experience for guests. Your regulars may be wondering about the specifics, but may be too reserved to ask, so your open communication about your solutions can help put their concerns to rest.

2. Prepare thoughtful statements in response to frequently asked questions and provide these to your employees so they’re prepared when guests at the door or the table want to know more about the precautions and policies of your restaurant. Hosts, servers, and managers should feel confident in delivering a reassuring and factual message when asked about the topic of COVID-19 safety.

3. Utilize a digital system to track and manage disinfecting procedures, employee health status, food handling processes, and safe serving temperatures. An easy-to-use management app like ComplianceMate-C19 also captures and stores contact tracing data with specific date, time, and location information. This risk management tool has helped hundreds of restaurants to re-open safely, ensure guest safety, and provide clear documentation in case of an inspection.

4. Assign a dedicated manager to implement and monitor your risk reduction efforts, who can personally check on employee compliance and guest comfort. Having a team member who is solely focused on and directly responsible for actively managing concerns, questions, or complaints improves accountability and shows your dedication to maintaining the safest possible dining environment.

5. Display informative signs at the entry, waiting area, and at tables, outlining the safety measures your restaurant has implemented and encourage your guests to participate in keeping dining safe and enjoyable for everyone.

6. Manage the flow of foot traffic to limit a guest’s contact with others. Make use of all appropriate entrances and exits to guide guests to tables without passing close to other diners and employees. Consider using directional indicators (signs, floor mats, etc.) to make this flow as seamless as possible. Separate pickup areas from dining areas, or practice contact-less pickup by taking payment over the phone and delivering meals to the guest’s car when they arrive.

7. Require your employees to wear gloves and masks at all times, as a visible sign to guests that your commitment to preventing guest exposure while dining out is a serious one. Employees who have symptoms or feel sick must be required to stay home and not be allowed contact with guests or their meals.

8. Provide hand sanitizer at the entrances, exits, restrooms, and perhaps at each table to encourage its regular use by guests and employees. Also provide protective gear for employees who clear tables, clean restrooms, wash dishes, or take out trash to protect them from exposure to items guests have used.

9. Regularly disinfect surfaces, dishes, silverware, and cooking utensils after each use or at regular intervals throughout each shift, using EPA-approved cleaning solutions, in line with health department recommendations and regulations.

Implementing these nine strategies will help ensure you and your staff are taking all the necessary steps to make your guests feel safe and comfortable.

As your dining room doors open once again, we wish you and your team a safe transition and a wonderful reunion with your favorite guests.

Source: Restaurant Business