COVID-19 has shaken up the food service industry, forcing restaurants and bars across the country to shut down – in some cases, permanently. Some dining rooms are beginning to welcome back customers, but virus hotspots are still fresh on diners’ minds. As they plan to reopen their doors, operators are having to rethink strategies to keep their staff and consumers safe and healthy.

When the pandemic hit, 22% of restaurants opted to shutter all operations, according to a survey by Datassential. Another 75% closed their dining rooms but offered delivery and takeout options. Now, restaurant and bar owners are more than ready to bring back customers, along with sales lost during months of shutdowns. Most operators told Datassential they plan to open immediately or within 2-3 weeks of restrictions lifting in their areas.

But their establishments will look much different than the ones diners visited before. Gloves, masks, bottles of hand sanitizer and dividers between employees and consumers are now common.

Datassential reported 80% of operators are providing gloves to their employees. Nearly as many are also offering masks. More than half have instituted social distancing measures, and 46% are requiring daily employee temperatures checks.

But restaurants aren’t stopping at providing tools for their staff – they are showing their workers how to properly use them. Fifty-six percent of restaurants have added new safety training.  

Sanitation and safety measures haven’t stopped with dine-in operations. Restaurants have come up with new ways to keep up their cleanliness with delivery and takeout as well.

Many eateries have restructured their dining rooms to offer designated pick-up areas. The solution keeps customers from coming into close contact. It also puts a safe distance between diners and restaurant staff.

Offering takeout and pick up via mobile app has also allowed restaurants to continue selling food and drinks while keeping their dining rooms from becoming too crowded. More than 20% of operators told Datassential they have transitioned to online ordering, while 18% are using third-party ordering apps.

When customers do come in to pick up their food, 36% of restaurants have set up systems to create social distancing between diners. And 39% have clear barriers between staff and customers.

To protect diners as they dig into their orders, 19% of restaurants have added tamper-proof seals and measures, and 15% have switched to new packaging that’s easier to sanitize.

While these measures can be costly, studies show they are important to customers. According to Black Box Intelligence, diners are more cautious about eating out post-COVID. Sixty percent of surveyed diners said their attitudes were “wait and see,” “anxious” or “very anxious” about going back to restaurants.

Diners are also saying “cleanliness is the new ambiance,” reports Black Box – net sentiment for cleanliness increased almost 20 points between April and June.

As restaurants keep food coming with delivery and takeout and in reopened dining rooms, hospitality management software Craftable can help operators keep tabs on orders and inventory – whether the products are geared toward cleanliness or tastiness. The platform also reconciles invoices and manages other back-of-office tasks, offering a one-stop-shop for restaurant management.

When it comes to keeping customers safe and satisfied, Craftable can help trim down on COVID concerns.

Whether your business is focused on delivery, takeout or dine-in, Craftable tools can help improve your bottom line. Sign up for a free trial and keep your profits healthy.