28 Tips for Bars Restaurants Re-Opening in a Post-Pandemic World

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The world is changing yet again, this time for the better. Masks are no longer required in many states. People are social again. And finally, most restaurants have reopened their doors to guests! A study performed by Morning Consult showed that about a year ago, the percentage of people who said they would be comfortable dining out was at a mere 42%. Yet, as of June 2021, that has risen to 70%. While we are heading in the right direction, the goal is to return to normal and increase that number to as close to 100% as possible.  It’s important to remember, as we go back to the routine of life, the pandemic was very real and scary for many people. Some will be hesitant to return to dining out and eating in public, and that is understandable. Business owners must figure out how to make customers feel comfortable during this transition. 

The pandemic forced the world to innovate, grow, and find solutions to function more safely and efficiently. Things that people had never considered were being implemented and enjoyed by customers. Because of the transition point that the country is in, we created this list to help bar owners as they reopen or open bars within their local communities. 

Below we compiled a list of 28 tips that emerged from the pandemic that owners can implement to help make customers feel safer when drinking or dining in their establishments.

wine self-pour efficiciency at Beasts & Brews 101 taps

Post Pandemic Strategy Tips

Operational Innovations/Adjustments

1. QR Code Menus

Typically, the first thing you do is hand customers a menu when they sit down. Now, you point to the QR code on the table, and customers have access to an online menu on their smartphones. This trend has taken off, and consumers seem to like this adaptation.

2. Order and Pay at Table

Similar to how the pandemic reduced the use of paper menus, some locations have decided to get rid of that old black bill holder that contains receipts as well. Instead, consider investing in a handheld ordering system. Then staff members can take orders and have the customers pay with their cards right from the table! 

Whether you have a bar, brewery, or restaurant, BBOT is a great option for ordering online directly from your table. This app is a contactless ordering solution built for both on- and off-premise ordering. With a quick and easy onboarding setup, you’ll have a fully customized and branded online ordering site that’s capable of handling multiple menus, ordering ahead, capturing data, it even has a high volume mode, and much more. 

PourMyBeer self-pour fan Hoppy

PourMyBeer Tip: If you are not cashless yet, consider it. Use Google Pay, Apple Pay, or something similar so your guests can pay on phones or through your app (if you have or plan to have one). If you decide to do this, make sure you have signs and let your customers know. 

3. Adjust Your Menu Display

If your bar or restaurant has TVs, you can display your menu on the screens to provide extra exposure to your food menu. Include photos of specific food items, which could lead to boosted food sales.

4. Have a Visible Drink Menu

Adding a large-screen version of your drink menu allows customers to see your selections from anywhere in the room. If you have a self-serve beverage wall, place it right above the wall. Through PourMyBeer’s integration with Untappd, your guests can decide what drinks they want to pour and know exactly where they can find them on the wall. Whether your brewery or taproom uses self-pour or a traditional setup, Untappd is a great option to display your offerings to guests.

5. Trim Down Your Menu

Think about what your most popular items are, and keep those, but take off items that aren’t as frequently ordered. This way, you aren’t wasting money on food that isn’t eaten, and you will simplify your operations.

6. Open Your Door to Online Business

Your website is an online door to your business. For that reason, it should communicate that you are taking all the necessary steps to keep your guests and employees safe. Promote your specials, branded merchandise, gift cards, and anything else that can bring in extra revenue on your website and social channels as well.

7. Increase Awareness About Your Delivery and Takeout Options

Post about your takeout and delivery methods on your website and social media channels for more exposure. Place signs around your establishment too, so it is visible to returning diners. This is important for businesses that did not offer these services before the pandemic. 

Learn more about how delivery and takeout can boost your sales here.

Sanitary Adjustments

You need to show your customers that you are doing everything you can to make your restaurant as safe as possible. A big part of this is clear communication and updated staff training procedures. During these first few months, when things start “returning to normal,” ensure that your staff understands your business will adjust to a new level of cleanliness as this is now expected across the board.

8. Minimize Touchpoints for Guests & Staff 

As a general rule of thumb, you should reduce the number of touchpoints at your establishment to the bare minimum. 

You should:

  • Reduce the number of staff taking and delivering food and drink orders.
  • Minimize the number of staff handling tableware. 
  • Keep all garnishes and tongs covered when not in use.

9. Display Disinfecting & Sanitizing Efforts

Customers expect your staff members to clean everything, so you must encourage and show sanitization. Your staff should clean at specific times so your customers can see the cleaning practices your restaurant has in place. Staff members should clean every table and chair after guests leave with restaurant-grade sanitizer.

10. Pay Extra Attention to Sanitizing Sensitive Areas

Sanitize door handles, menus, and other areas that are often touched by several customers. You should also clean your bar or restaurant’s bathrooms more frequently. Create a timetable to post on the bathroom door that shows how often they get cleaned. They should get cleaned at least four times a day.

11. Adjust Your Staff Training Program 

When reopening your bar or restaurant, managing the health and safety of your employees is key. Introduce new training programs for staff members (whether new or returning) that will provide more detail about the importance of sanitization and any other operational changes that you plan to apply as part of your post-COVID strategy. We recommend demonstrating the proper way to wash your hands during staff training. All staff members should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. Also, make sure to communicate that the physical space between employees and customers should increase during these times.

12. Monitor Employees Health and Update Sick Policy

Put a system in place to monitor employee’s health and update your sick policy to ensure that staff members don’t come into work with any symptoms. The last thing that your guests want to see is a sick staff member where they’re eating.

13. Communicate the Importance of Sanitizing to Staff

Place signs around the kitchen and bar areas reminding staff to wash their hands, sanitize, and avoid touching their face. You should also have hand sanitizer stations throughout your establishment to encourage sanitizing. Check that your hand sanitizer is at least 60% alcohol to kill all germs.

14. Install Foot Pulls

Install foot pulls at the bottom of your public restrooms. This way, customers can avoid opening the door with their hands and instead use their feet.

15. Prepare Your Table Properly

Each table should have:

  • Hand sanitizer for guests to use before eating their food.
  • Napkins should be in a container where the guest is only touching one napkin.
  • Silverware should come to the table wrapped up after the guests arrive.

Adjust Your Setup

16. Lean Towards an Open Concept Kitchen

This is dependent on the layout of your establishment, but if you can have an open concept kitchen or partially adjust your setup to this trend, do it. This trend is becoming more popular as customers have the visibility to see what is happening with their food in the kitchen. Open concept kitchens show that you have confidence in your operations and cleaning practices.

17. Separate Bar Area for Ordering Only

The bar should have a separate section for ordering only (no seats). This way, customers who want to order another drink (or food item), can avoid leaning over someone else. You should have a sign to let customers know this section is available.

18. Reorganize Your Table Setup

Reorganize the table setup inside your restaurant to create more space and better flow within your restaurant. This is a safer way to ensure that guests from other tables are not walking too close to one another. 

19. Embrace Reservations

With limited capacity, we saw a resurface in reservations. You want to make sure that guests are coming in and also make sure that those who are coming in don’t have to wait too long for their tables. Thus, if you have not done so yet, use booking tools to stagger customer flow, such as OpenTable. You may want to charge a fee for a missed reservation as it could take a spot away from customers who otherwise would have shown up.

inside of restaurant

20. Implement Line Flow

Add signage indicating what direction patrons should go to avoid getting in the way of one another. This way, you can influence the flow of guests throughout your establishment.

21. Shift to Consuming Outside 

Create a “Pickup Window,” whether for beverages or food, or even both. During the warmer months, there will be a rise in people wanting to eat and drink outside. Open space helps guests feel safer. If you don’t have a patio yet, try to secure an outside area for your diners or drinkers if possible. This can even be in your establishment’s parking lot, depending on your state’s regulations.

22. Plastic Tents

Install plastic tents or some sort of roofing over your outdoor seating section. This will keep guests dry in case of inclement weather and allows you, as an operator, to maximize your seating capacity.

23. Covered and Heated Outdoor Dining

In the winter months, keeping your guests warm and creating a welcoming atmosphere are two very important things to consider. To create a more permanent and less temporary feel than plastic tents, build an all-over covering around your outdoor dining area and use space heaters. 

You can get more creative with it and use bubbles or greenhouses. Provide guests with the option to book a spot in your bubbles or greenhouses as part of your online reservation software. Many restaurants with these kinds of structures require a minimum number of guests to sit and/or money spent to reserve a spot.

Ono Brewing Company COVID Outdoor seating

24. Separate Entrance and Exit Doors

If your establishment’s setup allows this, have separate doors for the entrance and exit as this will reduce the traffic flow in one specific area.

Self-Serve Beverage Walls

Self-pour businesses have to make adjustments to their operations as any other business in the hospitality industry. The good news is that self-pour makes increasing operational efficiency and reducing staffing challenges more manageable than at a traditional bar

One of our awesome customers in Colorado, The Golden Mill, knew they faced an extreme challenge. How would they efficiently serve 6,000 guests each weekend if they couldn’t find enough staff for their 6,000 sq. ft. venue?

To learn how The Golden Mill successfully overcame staffing issues in their establishment, download the case study below!

While the recommendations in this section apply to self-pour establishments, we encourage everyone to take a look at the following tips. They may spark some ideas that can apply to businesses that aren’t self-pour!

25. Staff Member Dedicated to Beer Wall Attendance

This staff member can serve as a beer (or drink) ambassador who not only educates your guests on the beverages offered but pours drinks for customers who don’t want to touch the tap handles. This staff member should be responsible for wiping down the taps and the screens as often as possible.

PourMyBeer self-pour fan Hoppy

PourMyBeer Tip: Beer Wall Ambassadors are something all self-pour establishments should have. Several of our customers, aka PourMyBeer Family Members, have found an increase in beverage sales with these ambassadors. They help educate customers, show them how to pour, recommend drinks, and increase the customer experience.

26. Explain the Rinser Function 

Patrons can confuse this as a place to wash their already used glasses. However, rinsers cool clean glasses before guests pour fresh beer. We recommend preventing this by adding signage indicating otherwise or having your Beer Ambassador let your customers know about this function.

rinse only new glass graphic

Helpful graphic to use above your rinser.

27. Add Tissues, Wet Wipes or Tapkins

Add these stations around your beverage wall and encourage customers to use them by providing signs or having a staff member (your Beer Ambassador) mention that they’re available.

28. Communicate Your Post-Covid Strategy

Above, we shared many tips you can put in place. Choose a few of your liking and that make the most sense for your establishment, and start communicating those with your network. Update your business’ website, send out a newsletter, or make a traditional leaflet to communicate the changes your bar or restaurant has made.

Pouring from PourMyBeer self-serve beverage wall with Tapkin

The world is starting to return to normal, but it is not going to happen overnight. Be patient. Your customers will come back full strength when they are ready. Until then, use these techniques to support your guests and show your commitment to their health and safety.

Hopefully, you will find some of our tips helpful in creating your post-COVID business strategy. Make sure to stay tuned and watch what is happening in the world around you. So go on, embrace the new environment, and don’t forget to have some fun while in the process. We hope that some of our tips above will help you with just that.

Stay Safe & Healthy! 

If you liked our tips, please don’t forget to share them with your friends who will find them beneficial!

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Ambler, PA 19002

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