Learn From China; Re-open Your Restaurant
For 2 months now, India has been in lockdown and the only certainty… is uncertainty. However, all hope is not lost. China, where the virus first started has eased restrictions; this includes opening up restaurants.
According to search engine giant ‘Baidu’, 90.6% of Beijing restaurants and 87% of Shanghai restaurants are now operational. This includes takeout and dine-in. Ignace Lecleir, promoter of Beijing’s Temple Restaurant Group said, “There has definitely been an increase (in customers) every week,” while speaking to ‘The Eater’. He goes on to say that 70% of the business is now from deliveries, while 30% comes from in-person sales.
Just before lifting the ban on restaurants the Chinese government released guidelines for restaurants to promote health and safety of the general population. These guidelines are subject to change as per the neighborhood, local authorities and as they learn more about the virus.
Early April, a restaurant was allowed to open their doors to dine-in customers provided they were in Low Risk Zones. With masks, body temperature checking, hand sanitizing and limiting guest capacity to the bare minimum, restaurants have gone beyond to not just reassure guests, but also give the rest of the Hospitality Industry a path to follow.
So, while we may be upset with China, it won’t hurt to learn from them. Let’s take a peek into China’s Restaurant Business Post The Lockdown :
1. Develop A Questionnaire & Sign Waivers
Post a temperature test, restaurants have made it mandatory for both guests and employees to fill out and sign waivers. Naturally, if they refuse, restaurants turn them down.
2. Disinfect Tableware
The backend is the new frontend – many restaurants sanitize cleaned cutlery, crockery and glassware at the guests’ table. This reassures them that they are doing everything possible to fight the virus.
3. Reduce Restaurant’s Capacity
Tables are spaced out and there is a limit on the number of covers at each table. In the early stages, as per the rules, they were allowed only one cover per table. The rule has been relaxed and they can now place three covers to a table.
4. Technovations (my own word)
Technological innovations are rampant. For example to get a Heytea Bubble Tea, customers queued up. However, Heytea innovated and customers now scan a QR code on the door displayed menu which allows them to place their order. When their drink is ready, customers are notified.
5. Air Filters
Bigger restaurant chains are controlling the flow of air within the restaurant, and also using air filters to prevent the entry of harmful pollutants or viruses.
6. Doubling Down On Training
Almost all restaurant groups in China have developed and displayed their anti-COVID Playbooks / Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). These SOPs form the basis of staff training.
So while uncertainty is the only certainty, there is a maxim that still holds true, “Guests are still KING”. So, we will go that extra mile and reassure them that we will provide them with a safe environment and healthy food while we remain committed to the maxim and communicate better!
Take a look at the Black Sheep Restaurants Anti-Covid Playbook – https://blacksheeprestaurants.com/covid/ Awesome commitment. Brilliant communication.
COVID-19 may have taken a few lives, but it will not deny us our livelihood.