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President Joe Biden has announced that COVID-19 vaccine doses could be available for all adult Americans by the end of May. As the United States continues on a path to recovery, you may be questioning how to plan a safe and successful restaurant reopening strategy.  

Here are five steps you can take to ensure your restaurant reopening strategy is safe, successful, and sustainable.

Apply for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund

On March 11th, President Biden signed into law the 1.9 trillion dollar American Rescue plan, which includes a 28.6 billion dollar Restaurant Revitalization Fund designed to help support the food and drink service industry during this difficult time. The 25 billion dollar round of funding will be divided into government-funded grants with a maximum of 10 million dollars per restaurant group or 5 million dollars per individual restaurant location. The Small Business Administration has announced they plan to begin a ‘phased launch’ of this fund in April.  

This critical support is designed to help restaurants continue to serve their communities despite the catastrophic challenges of COVID-19, and you should investigate whether this new fund can help your business adapt to the new ‘normal’ as you plan your restaurant reopening strategy. 

Know when your employees are eligible for vaccination

COVID-19 vaccine distribution varies by each state. Some states like Alaska, California, and Hawaii have announced restaurant workers are eligible to receive the vaccination, while other states have not opened vaccine eligibility to the restaurant industry. Since vaccine distribution varies by each state, it is important to stay up-to-date on your employees’ eligibility. The National Restaurant Association has created a Restaurant Industry State Vaccine Tracker to provide up-to-date information about how restaurant workers can get the vaccine in each state, the current distribution phase, and applicable employer responsibilities. 

It is critical to know that we are still not out of the woods despite vaccination distribution ramping up. According to CDC data, more than 147 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the US, but the agency’s director is concerned about surging cases. Continue to educate yourself on vaccine distribution in your community to ensure your restaurant reopening timeline aligns with your state’s vaccination distribution to help protect your employees and customers.

Protect your Staff & Employees with the latest CDC Guidelines for COVID-19

To help reduce coronavirus spread, the CDC has updated its Considerations for Restaurant and bar operations. Within these recommendations, the CDC is suggesting the following strategies be implemented:

  • Educate employees about when they should stay home and when they can return to work.
  • Consider requiring the use of masks among all staff and provide information on proper use, removal, and washing of masks.
  • Require frequent employee hand-washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Provide adequate supplies to support healthy hygiene, such as soap, hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, paper towels, tissues, disinfectant wipes, masks, and no-touch/foot pedal trash cans.
  • Post signs that promote protective measures in highly visible locations for both employees and customers.
  • Maintain a healthy environment in your restaurant through cleaning and disinfecting practices, ensuring that your ventilation systems operate correctly, and modifying your dining layout to promote social distancing.

In addition to these guidelines, the CDC recommends restaurants and bars install physical barriers, such as sneeze guards and partitions, and provide physical guides, such as tape on floors and signage, to ensure individuals remain at least six feet apart. 

Maximize your revenue potential with a virtual restaurant

Many industry experts expect virtual restaurant concepts to continue to grow and play a significant role in the industry. In fact, according to market research firm Euromonitor International, the virtual restaurant market is expected to grow to $1 trillion by 2030. 

Innovative restauranteurs have found ways to successfully leverage virtual restaurants during COVID-19 and build new revenue streams into their restaurant model. Whether developing a new virtual restaurant concept on your own or leveraging a Branded Virtual Restaurant created by a third-party partner, like Grubhub, virtual restaurants are an excellent strategy for maximizing your revenue potential without additional overhead costs. 

Strengthen your takeout and delivery business strategy

In a recent survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, 68% of respondents said they are more likely to purchase takeout or delivery food now than they were before the pandemic. 53% of survey respondents reported that buying takeout or delivery food is essential to their way of life. To reach these customers, you must continue to strengthen your takeout and delivery business. 

To grow your takeout and delivery capabilities, look for a partner like Grubhub, who can offer you the solutions, technology, and customer-base to grow your off-premise business. When you become a Grubhub partner, you get access to: 

  • Easy-to-use technology enabling you to manage orders seamlessly, build a loyal customer base and make data-driven decisions for your business.  
  • Promotion and loyalty tools, like our Smart Promotions and sponsored listings, to help you reach new customers and maximize your visibility on the Grubhub Marketplace. 
  • Grubhub delivery drivers who will pick-up and deliver to your customers in insulated delivery bags. 

While we may not know fully what the new ‘normal’ will look like in a post-COVID-19 world, there is one thing we do know: restaurants are incredibly resilient and will adapt and continue to find innovative ways to feed their communities. 

Ready to increase your takeout sales and reach new customers? Try Grubhub for free for 30 days.

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