COVID-19 Restaurant Survival Guide

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COVID-19 Restaurant Survival Guide

by on March 29, 2020
COVID-19 Restaurant Survival Guide

We hope this COVID-19 Restaurant Survival Guide will spark some ideas for how you can pivot your restaurant in the wake of COVID-19. Restaurants are in full survival mode. Most are working hard to pivot and to try and find their market. Establishments that relied heavily on dine-in operations are faced with completely changing the way they do business or simply closing their doors and waiting out the crisis. Others that have already embraced drive-thru or delivery are getting by. So, what can restaurants do if want to stay open, but their current model isn’t sustainable?

7 Steps for Your COVID-19 Restaurant Survival Guide

  1. Create a park-in operation. Do you have a parking lot? If so, use it to serve your customers. The parking spaces can act just like tables in the restaurant. You can serve customers without them leaving their cars. Tech companies such as One Dine ( can help you set it up so customers can use their phones to place and pay for orders. This limits contact and allows your guests to feel safe in their own cars.
  2. Set up a virtual drive-thru. If you don’t have a parking lot to utilize, set up a virtual drive thru. Pop up a tent and place someone to take orders right on the front curb.
  3. Expand delivery. If you didn’t embrace the third-party delivery boom you can still do delivery. Use your existing work force that may not be able to serve guests in the restaurant to deliver food to guests in their homes.
  4. Package food for bulk or family-size portions. Even though most people are staying home, they still need to eat, and they probably don’t want to fight for food at the grocery store. Provide options that allow for the food to last such as delivering it cold. Include directions for proper cold storage and the final cooking step. That way they can only heat up what they need.
  5. Use social media. Your customers are out there at home and online. This is an opportunity to engage with a whole new audience. People that normally wouldn’t come to your restaurant might be enticed to try your food now. Also, what about the loyal customers that you already have. Reach out to them with your meal options and with online ordering and payment methods.
  6. Educate your customers. Create a flyer to put in every order letting your customers know all of the things you are doing to keep them safe, such as strict sanitation, employee health, and limited person to person contact policies. You want your customers to feel confident about ordering from you again and again.
  7. Be smart about packaging. When packaging your food, make it tamper-proof as much as possible. Provide a seal that will break when the package is opened and inform the customer not to consume the food if it’s delivered without the seal fully intact.

These are unprecedented times for restaurants. The good news is that it is temporary. These strategies for survival need to probably last a year. Make sure your operations still follow all of the necessary food safety processes and regulations. The last thing you need is foodborne illness on top of an infectious disease outbreak. With proper execution and heightened vigilance, restaurants can weather the storm and come back stronger than ever.

Here are some additional links with more information on COVID-19 and restaurants:

How to Prevent Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Your Restaurant

Restaurant Coronavirus Exposure Plan

PDF Overview: Coronavirus Exposure Plan

COVID-19 Poster (18×24 inches) to print and hang in your restaurant

5 Steps to Wash Your Hands Correctly (PDF)

Dennis Keith on LinkedinDennis Keith on Twitter
Dennis Keith
With more than 25 years in the restaurant industry, Dennis is passionate about helping restaurant professionals improve their businesses, whether it be for food safety, training, sustainability, sourcing new technologies for restaurants or connecting service providers with restaurant operators. You can learn more about Dennis by connecting with him on LinkedIn and Twitter (@fsnfoodsafety and @resprofsp).

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