Stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders came down fast and hard on dine-in restaurants. Many are now fighting for survival. Those able to quickly convert dine-in to take-out and delivery service have a chance to hang on through the pandemic.
Limit Your Menu
Select your best-selling, easiest to make items that you can prepare and package quickly for curbside pickup or delivery. That means making choices based on items that use common, easily stored ingredients in different ways. That way you can prep and refrigerate ingredients in bulk and prepare hot items as the orders roll in.
Look around the kitchen and identify the machines and equipment you’ll need most to prepare your take-out menu. Remember you’ll want to minimize contact with multiple surfaces and maximize efficiency. Meat cutters, for example, can prep various large quantities of meats for different dishes quickly while maintaining sanitary conditions in the kitchen.
Set Up Your Ordering System
If you aren’t already using a partner delivery service, set up ordering and delivery now. Recognizing the plight of restaurants during this epidemic, some of these services are temporarily waiving fees. If getting your menu and payment options to work with an external service is just too time-consuming, set up a way to take orders directly by phone. The service that provides web hosting for your site should have the means to set up secure online payments that comply with privacy laws.
Designate selected staff to be solely responsible for taking orders, getting them to the kitchen, and getting addresses to delivery drivers.
Assure Your Patrons About Sanitation, Contactless Delivery, and Pick-up Procedures
Your regulars want to support you—but they also want to know what extra steps you are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Get information up on your websites about the measures you are taking (even if many of them, like hand washing, were already routine parts of your operation) and that you have trained delivery drivers about contactless delivery.
If you’ll be serving patrons who come in to pick up food, demonstrate that you are serious about social distancing and keeping everyone as safe as possible. Measure six-foot intervals from the door to the pickup station and mark them with tape so people know how far they should stay away from each other. If you’re offering curbside pickup, work with your local authorities to allow patrons to wait in their cars outside your door so staff can run orders out. Even people in cars will want to stay as far away as possible when picking up their food. Customers will appreciate Innovative ways to get their food without getting too close to another person.
Converting a dine-in restaurant to a take-out operation is a major undertaking. If restaurants can accomplish this effectively now while controlling costs and managing inventory well, they may add a permanent revenue stream to their future operations.