Restaurants are starting to reopen for dine-in service, and guests and proprietors alike are thrilled. But one challenge will change the dining experience: social distancing. So how do you take this into account as business starts back up and realign your restaurant floor plan for social distancing?
Ways to Realign Your Restaurant Floor Plan for Social Distancing
It’ll be necessary for restaurants to revisit floor plan layouts to keep guests a safe distance apart from one another, and a few strategies may help.
Block Off Unavailable Tables
Realigning your restaurant floor plan for social distancing may become a headache. If you’re eager to get up and running without the burden of physically rearranging everything, blocking off unavailable tables could work. Between CDC (six feet) and National Restaurant Association (nine to 15 feet) recommendations, your restaurant will require plenty of space between tables. Using unoccupied tables as barriers provides a starting guidepost for employees and guests.
Alternatively, place plexiglass around available tables to provide enhanced social distancing, or implement reservations-only seating to keep an accurate guest count and provide physical distance.
Remove Tables from the Dining Room
Because your restaurant can’t function at maximum capacity, it might be beneficial to simply remove tables from the dining room and adjust the floor plan. This way, guests and staff alike can avoid confusion over off-limits areas and tables can be better spaced. Reexamine your floor plan and arrange the remaining tables to be at least six feet apart. For an extra safety boost, consider limiting party sizes to no more what’s approved by the CDC or local government.
If you’re going to be expanding seating into a new area of your space, make sure you’ve properly calculated your floor load capacity first to prevent against costly damages down the road.
Emphasize Outdoor Dining
Have an outdoor patio? Use it to your advantage. Restaurants with outdoor seating should suggest it to customers to maximize available service. In practice, outdoor tables are generally well spaced and fewer in number, which helps reduce germ spread. Even better, the open air means that you don’t have to debate over using physical barriers between tables.
How to Protect the People at Your Restaurant
Specific safety measures for customers and employees alike will enhance social distancing and overall dining safety.
Protect Your Guests
A major risk point for restaurant customers comes in the queue to be seated. Your restaurant may have a modest lobby, or barely have one at all! Emphasize social distancing with floor markings, and maintain separate entrance and exit points to prevent crowding and cross traffic in doorways, if possible. If the customer queue gets too long, expand it to parking or sidewalk areas, complete with ground markers six feet apart. Of course, the weather won’t always cooperate, so make it possible for customers to wait in their cars.
Waitlist and text messaging tech can be a big help in managing the queue, too. With these tools in place, customers don’t have to crowd the waiting area, and they’ll know when a table is available from anywhere.
Protect Your Staff
They’ll be helping you successfully operate daily, so protect your staff by implementing safety measures. Customer contact comes with the territory, so consider requiring waitstaff to wear masks when they’re in front of guests. Similarly, establish clean operations procedures, like wearing gloves to hand off food to guests, frequent hand washing and regularly cleaning tabletop devices and seating areas.
Technology might help here, too. Think about implementing mobile ordering and contactless payment to enhance social distancing between guests and waitstaff.
Welcome Guests Back with a Smile
As your restaurant reopens for in-person dining, welcome your guests back with a smile. Everyone has to be a little flexible and take steps for a safe dining experience, and McLean can help. Ask us about our commercial cleaning services to keep your restaurant operating safely.