Restaurant Reopening Guide

As restaurants are preparing to open up their businesses again, it is crucial for business owners to reopen their restaurants accordingly to ensure their success while keeping their customers and employees safe. Take a look at this brief overview of what steps you should follow and what options are available. We will take a look at what needs to be done before and after opening, how to adapt, and manage takeout, delivery, and employees. We will also go over what marketing, finance, and operational strategies you can implement, and how to prepare for the future.

For more information download the full Restaurant Reopening Resource Guide here.

Before Opening

  • Separate tables and barstools 6 feet apart.
  • Limit tables to 6 people.
  • Skip one booth or install plexiglass between them.
  • Remove unused tables and chairs or make them visibly unavailable.

After Opening

  • Clean and sanitize anything any person could touch.
  • Clean menus, tables, chairs, condiments, etc. between every use.
  • Clean restrooms frequently.
  • Consider having hand sanitizer for guests.

Be Prepared to Adapt

  • Guests will return in waves based on their own personal assessment of the risk.
  • Adapt each week as what works in the 1st week may not work in the following.
  • Your plan of action may change based on how returning business affects your customers and what they perceive as acceptable norms.

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Takeout and Delivery

  • Have easy ordering options such as online, app, or phone ahead orders.
  • Have patrons wait in their vehicles to keep foot traffic low and avoid crowding an already limited capacity restaurant.
  • Use employees to deliver food to the vehicles.
  • Use texting or apps to alert when clients are waiting and when food is ready.


  • Pre-screen employees to know their well-being for 14 days prior to coming back to work. 
  • Conduct daily screenings.
  • Communicate expectations on sanitization, social distancing, personal hygiene, hand washing, and cleanliness.
  • Ensure every employee has a valid food handlers’ certificate.


  • Use social media to keep your customers updated on what is happening with the restaurant and any changes.
  • Post updates, food and drink specials, theme nights, new menu items, special events, etc. to get people through the door or ordering online.
  • Have bartenders or servers post and encourage guests and regulars to visit.
  • Actively post on your social media platforms to keep your business in customer’s minds.

Operation Services Options

Consider using operation services. Below are only a few options. All of them are great in their own ways, but you should research them and determine if they apply to your business model, whether they’re cost-effective to your bottom line, and whether or not you can find another resource doing the same thing that is a better fit for you. 

  • ChowNow – 
    • Online ordering and app development personalized for your restaurant.
  • Swipeby – 
    • Takeout curbside solutions and efficiency.
  • ShiftPixy – 
    • Solutions for employees, gig workers, scheduling, and native delivery, as well as insurance options for drivers.
  • Presto – 
    • Contactless dining kits, menus, ordering, and payment. 

*These are only some of the options available. The SBDC does not endorse any of the mentioned vendors.


  • Talk with your landlord to address the terms of your lease, such as lease adjustments and renegotiations.
  • If you got a deferment, ask how to make up for the delayed payments.
  • Do what you can to address your needs now as well as moving forward.

Prepare for the Future

  • Create a plan of action.
  • Include updates with everything you’ve learned.
  • Take all the policy changes, logistics lessons, financing options, accounting practices, takeout and delivery options, insurance, marketing, etc., and organize it into a form you can use should this kind of thing happen again.


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