Considerations for re-opening Restaurants through Covid-19

This document attempts to discuss the practical measures that restaurateurs can put in place to mitigate the negative effects of these changes.

Front of house changes

Cleaning schedules will need to be much more rigorous and restaurateurs should be telling potential customers about this “on the door”, on their website and social media. In fact there are those who arguing that you need to make cleaning really obvious. Make your cleaning “theatrical”, a “highly visible performance”. What would have seemed odd or pretentious in 2019 will be reassuring in 2020 and beyond. Cleaning was previously done mostly when customers were not present. In a CoVid19 world customers will be reassured to see it being done.


When restaurants reopen compulsory "social distancing" measures will likely still be in place, even if they are not, your customers might want them. This will mean that you will have to space people out more so that tables are further apart. Maybe you have a separate room or basement that you formerly used only when you were busy? You might have to put your best customers there, so make sure that room is warm and inviting. A good idea for the lockdown time is to plan these possible layouts. Do you need somewhere to store surplus tables and chairs?

Table items

Might need to change drastically as they can be possible vectors of transmission. Anything that more than one person can touch should be got rid of. So, condiment sets will have to go. Single use portions will have to come on truly their own, on demand.

Menus and wine lists

That are handled by different customers are another no-no. Ordering apps are a solution and will surely become much more common.

The first thing to do is to put your menus and wine list (making sure they are up to date) on your website. Customers can simply look them up when they are in the restaurant. Have the url prominently displayed so that people can find them. If you have the customer’s email address, e.g. from an online booking, you can send the menu and wine list to them.

Hand sanitiser

You will want hand sanitiser to be available BUT you don’t want people touching bottles on tables. I personally think that it will be the new normal for people to carry their own hand sanitisers. Perhaps you could sell your own branded ones?


It might be that cutlery will now come in paper wrappers after being sterilised either in the dishwasher or in UV sterilising devices. Studies on both SARS and MERS show that UV light could inactivate the viruses, so it’s not unreasonable to expect that it will have a similar effect on COVID-19.

Wine glasses and bottles

Hanging them above the bar might not be the best place for them we think restaurants will go back to storing them in cupboards. And wine bottles will be wiped down by wine waiters after the first pour and I don’t think customers will appreciate the waiter handling the bottle for repeated pours.


You will want to go cashless and contactless. The limits for contactless can only go up. If customers’ credit cards have to be entered in a machine, then they should be wiped down with sanitising wipes before being entered in the machine.


You will want to provide tissues outside restrooms so that customers can open the doors without touching the handles with their bare hands. And don’t forget bins for the tissues to be disposed in. The same goes for customers going out of the restroom. Print and frame notices about this.

In the long run you will want foot operated doors. And sensor taps on the sinks and toilet flushes that don’t have to be touched. Expect these to become the new normal everywhere.

Your people

You should have in place processes to conduct temperature checking and look out for respiratory symptoms such as cough or runny nose or shortness of breath of employees twice daily.

Those who are unwell with temperature of 38 degree Celsius or higher, and/or display respiratory symptoms should be asked by the organisation to seek immediate medical attention.

The same thing will have to apply to suppliers who enter your building.

You should keep a “Temperature Monitoring Log”. Again displaying things like this in public might seem weird but will act as reassurance to customers that you are on top of things.

There are going to be a lot of questions around “immunity certificates”. You are going to have two scenarios, one where some of your people have had coronavirus and supposedly are immune but other have not been exposed.

Kitchen - “Goods in”

You will need have a think about how delivery people are interacting with you. Can you set up a “reception area” where goods are left in a contactless fashion? You want to eliminate unknown suppliers walking through your restaurant.

The cardboard outer on a case of tomatoes might have contamination but the inner tin of tomatoes will probably be safe. So you will want to wipe down the outer. However that might not be the case for freshly packed butcher meat so the inner will have to be wiped down before going into storage.

Kitchen workflows

Can you physically change the layout of your kitchen to allow stations to work “alone” and minimise interaction?

Can all stations work “alone” and then deliver to the “pass”? If all your people are immune this may become academic, but in the short term this will be important for the safety of your staff and your ability to retain them. This might mean rewriting your menu now to eliminate production processes that cause unnecessary crossover of people.

So, what is a Restauranteur to do?

There is a lot to think about, so the advice is “get started”! Nobody is pretending it is going to be easy coming out of this and so much depends on how well our politicians put fixes in place for the “macroeconomic” problems, but it is the Restauranteurs who have prepared that are the ones who are going to be best placed to survive and succeed.

We will be happy to assist in any way that we can so if you do want to chat any of this through contact me at