The Covid ’19 crisis enforced an unsolicited hiatus on F&B businesses all around the world. Six months into the crisis, restaurant owners still wait for things to return to normalcy and are taking all the necessary steps to re-open, albeit cautiously. On the other hand, customers are treading lightly around the idea of eating out and are extra cautious about taking the requisite steps of safety and hygiene.
Restaurants have an important part to play in building customer trust. With the trends in this space changing swiftly, here is a checklist of 7 things restaurateurs should do to maintain safety and hygiene at the restaurant.
- Contactless Service and Updated Payment System
While this one is a no-brainer, this could be the most effective element on this checklist. If you are going via the aggregator route of getting orders, you would know that online payment is mandatory However, you should consider adding that If your customers are able to minimize the amount of physical contact they make with restaurant staff and restaurant stuff, they’ll be less fearful whilst availing contact-less delivery services. For dine-in, you could consider the installation of QR code enabled menu-cards in addition to the online payment via wallets or UPI.
- Employees’ Personal Hygiene Standards
While it’s the responsibility of the staff to maintain good personal hygiene, it is always better to define and stipulate standards. A good starting point could be to include compulsorily wearing masks at all times and sanitising hands before serving any order at all, mandatory temperature checks. A more exhaustive list can be made by your establishment and strict punitive actions can be taken against non-compliance of the same.
- Social Distancing and Disinfecting Rules for Customers
Install barriers or “no-seat seats” on tables to ensure adequate distance between customers. Often, the threat comes from fellow diners than the staff itself. Further, limit the capacity to ensure that only a manageable number of customers dine at once, not only to ensure the hygiene and safety norms at all times.
You can also install disinfectant tunnels at the main entrance and sanitizers at every table, bar area and other contact points across the restaurant. Further, if a customer feels unwell, suggest him or her to go home. The same should apply for employees as well!
- Proper Ventilation
Merely keeping the establishment visibly clean will do little good. In times of supply-demand disparity, skewed against F&B businesses, it becomes important to go the extra mile. While ventilation is key to general wellbeing, it becomes pivotal in times like these. Nobody wants to go to a stuffy restaurant and end up feeling sick and anxious. Pandemic or not, it is a good practice to ensure that there’s adequate ventilation to pave out an escape route for smoke, moisture and heat.
- Frequent Disinfection and Cleaning
Increase the frequency of cleaning all common spaces within the establishments and ensure that every table and touch point is disinfected every time a customer avails the service. Further, it is important that your cleaning staff is appropriately dressed and has all the hygiene gear in place. If the cleaning staff is not sufficiently clean, then the restaurant can’t remain clean either. The visual of an unsanitary or inadequately equipped person doing the cleaning can colour your customers’ perception negatively and may hurt your patronage.
- Minimum Use of “Reusable Accessories”
It could be a good idea to do away with linens on the tables or napkins. Your customers may not be very comfortable using a washed napkin or anything else that increases contact. Rather, install disposables wherever possible. Napkins can be replaced with tissues; table clothes can be removed to expose hard table-top which can easily be disinfected to promote the cause of safety and hygiene.
While it is largely believed that food once brought to a certain heat self-disinfects, placing certain protocols on the cooking staff is a sound move. This may include dealing with vendors outside the premises, disinfecting fruits, vegetables and other ingredients the moment they’re procured, storage and shelving of meat and dairy to name a few things. Further, only trusted vendors’ produce should be procured to minimise plausible threat from a contamination perspective
While restaurants consider re-opening their businesses amidst the Coronavirus scare, it is of paramount importance that they make the required changes to the way they operate. Taking the necessary steps to maintain safety and hygiene is key and we hope this guide was a useful one. Like always, more power to you!