These are strange times we’re living in with COVID-19 still present and posing a potential threat to anyone leaving their house. It can be especially hard to navigate what to do and how to proceed as stay-at-home orders begin to lift and businesses are able to reopen, especially if you’re a restaurant owner experiencing your restaurant reopening!
You most likely have to get your business open and running again if you want to keep money coming in and food on the table for not only you and your employees but your loyal patrons as well. But how can you reopen and keep your guests safe? Here are some creative-but-simple ideas on how to social distance your restaurant:
1. Create open communication with your customers
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that your customers are just as lost and confused as you-- if not more so! Every state and city is regulating things differently, and they might be unsure of going out to eat, even if it’s designated safe in your area. If your customers are unsure of how social distancing will work at your restaurant, they’ll likely skip eating out at your business altogether.
Give your customers peace of mind by keeping them well informed and remaining transparent as your business reopens. If you have social media accounts, share with your customers how you will be social distancing, and that their safety is important to you. If you’re not on social media, you can send emails, or even put signs up at your location. Every effort you make will go a long way for your patrons and show them you’re willing to go the extra mile for their safety.
2. Remove tables and seating options
One of the easiest ways to ensure the best social distancing practices at your restaurant is to simply remove seating options inside. This will help you keep guests to a certain number, and will give your customers the space they need to safely eat out.
3. Use tape/stickers to guide your customers
If you really want to help your customers and give them peace of mind, using colored tape or stickers showing them where to stand and walk is a wonderful idea. This will make it easier on them to know where to go, and it will make it easier on your and your employees to see if anyone needs a little reminder on the importance of social distancing at your establishment.
4. Utilize outdoor space
Now is the perfect time to get creative and explore different ways to explore any outdoor space you have at your restaurant. This might be difficult depending on your location, especially if you’re in a busy area and only have a small sidewalk outside your business (if that!). However, if you have any bit of outdoor space, even if it’s just a parking lot, there are many ways you can utilize that space to begin restaurant social distancing.
If you have outdoor space already, perhaps move even more tables and chairs outdoors, as long as tables are still a good distance apart. If you don’t have designated outdoor seating, think about using your parking lot!
This could be a great opportunity for you to try something new, entice new customers as they drive by and see a unique set-up, and will limit the number of customers who will be eating at your establishment at a time, as some fo your parking space will be limited. Of course, if you’ve never had an outdoor eating arrangement at your restaurant before, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Tips for outdoor seating:
Invest in climate control
Your guests won’t want to eat outside if they’re sweating in the heat or shivering in the cold. Even in areas with a temperate climate, the weather can change quickly. Make sure you have heaters or fans to keep your guests comfortable.
Have a designated outdoor server
If you’ve never had outdoor seating at your restaurant before, your employees might find it difficult to keep all your guests happy and provide great service for indoor and outdoor guests. It’s harder to tell when outdoor guests need things, and it can be easier for their needs to slip a busy server’s mind when the guest isn’t right in their face. For the first few shifts with new outdoor seating, make sure there’s a designated server taking care of guests seating outdoors.
Create a nice atmosphere
You already know your customers don’t just come for the food, they come for the atmosphere of your restaurant! If you’re setting up outdoor seating for the first time, don’t forget lighting and a few decorations to take even a boring parking lot to more fun, bright, enjoyable level for your guests.
And last but not least, the best way to create an amazing outdoor experience:
5. Buy/rent restaurant tents.
Outdoor restaurants need event tents, or restaurant tents, to be exact. It’s a requirement if you want to guarantee guests have a comfortable experience, and the same goes for outdoor seating at your restaurant. By utilizing a social distancing tent for your outdoor seating, you’ll be able to provide your guests with a safe social distancing restaurant experience while also giving them all the comforts of being outside.
Bad weather? Annoying bugs? Ugly surroundings? None of these things will be a problem if you invest in an event tent. The best things about tents are that they are completely customizable, too! If you have a large outdoor area with a lot of space, set up a big frame or pole tent. If you’re trying to make do with little space and really want to help guests social distance, set up multiple pop-up tents than can hold just a few tables or even one per table!
Better yet, event tents will allow you to create a beautiful outdoor atmosphere for your guests. Even if your outdoor seating is in a parking lot, you can make it feel like a sophisticated dining experience with an event tent and a little design. String lights, floor uplighting, flowers, draping, and more can transform your drab outdoor space into the perfect experience for your guests.
You can even get creative with outdoor food and drink stations if you want to limit the number of employees inside the restaurant space. Create a simple, outdoor bar station so guests can easily refill drinks, and employees won’t have to run back in forth. Create a buffet table for the ultimate brunch experience. There are limitless options for your restaurant with an event tent!
No matter how you decide to reopen your restaurant, remember to keep social distancing at the front of your mind so that you can provide a safe, fun experience for your customers. They’ve probably been itching for your business to reopen just as much as you have!
And if you want to expand your restaurant space and comply with the social distancing rules, you can always contact us, and American Tent will be happy to offer you high-quality outdoor restaurant tents.