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5 Tips and Tricks to Reopening Your Restaurant

As New York City and New Jersey loosen restaurants’ indoor dining restrictions and increasing capacity to fifty percent, owners and teams need to prepare for immediate pivots and long-term sustainability. The post-pandemic world still has many shades of grey, and there’s no “all lights on” solution. The work ahead must be done in phases, with particular consideration of higher profit margins and shorter prep time.

And most of the focus, honestly, should be towards strategizing new menus, embracing technology that fosters a safe environment, and continuing to develop strong takeout and delivery programs. Move forward with the four Ps in mind: Product, Price, Profit, and Promotion. 

The world is starting again. Let’s walk through the door with five tips and tricks to reopening your restaurant.  

1. Embrace Frozen Assets

Is there a word more ubiquitous than “fresh” in the food universe? No one wants expired ingredients, but the obsession with fresh as synonymous with “great” sometimes overshadows a very necessary, and totally delicious, alternative—frozen. When it comes to budget and time, the freezer is your friend. If working with a smaller staff, consider incorporating frozen items that will cut prep time without sacrificing quality or flavor. These can include fries, soup bases, prepared meats, seafood, and other quick cooking proteins and vegetables. Bonus: These products travel well with deliveries, too.

There’s no substitute for fresh, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t alternatives. Woolco Foods can help you navigate the balance between products and identify the best options. It’s not cheating—it’s freezing. 

2. Package the Goods

Buying in bulk is a smart way to cut costs in a restaurant the same way it is at home. Streamlining the number of ingredients and developing creative meal variations from them can have a major impact on the bottom line. How do you translate that economic approach to a successful restaurant menu? Feature packaged offerings, like family-style brunches or dinners. 

And remember: keep it local! Businesses can claim 100% deduction on meals purchased from restaurants, so consider offering special lunch menus for nearby organizations to incentivize orders. Promoting these offers also shows investment in your local community. We have to help each other through these next phases of post-pandemic life.

3. Digitize to Normalize

As we ease back into some sense of normalcy, there are still safety signals that will need to remain, both for the comfort and convenience of your guests. There’s no better way to reassure diners you’re taking their health seriously than by offering digital menus. Creating these digital worlds at each table indicates a specific type of investment in the future of dining. Use QR Codes on table signs so guests can pull up menus on their phones. Be sure to include safety measures and share pictures. 

The truth is, the more your restaurant embraces digital solutions—from menus to a delivery app—the better positioned you’ll be for any future hiccups.  

4. Take an Early Holiday 

Not everyone will be ready to dine in right away, so it’s crucial to have your holiday menus out in time to accept early orders for pickup or delivery. Early postings can also give people plenty of time to assess their feelings about dining in at your restaurant and make a decision. 

Outdoor dining, if you’re able to offer it, is also a great way to introduce an atmospheric element to holidays, while adding an additional safety net for diners still hesitant about eating indoors. 

(P.S. Holidays include Mother’s Day, 4th of July, and even the made up ones, like National Cheesecake Day.) 

5. The Takeaway Is Takeout

We’ll keep saying it: Continue to make your delivery and pickup experiences as exceptional as possible. People have grown accustomed to ordering in over the last year—and 50-60% of people are still hesitant about dining out. The more you can do to keep that revenue stream strong as comfort levels calibrate, the better. Because here’s the thing: Many diners may be “at” your restaurants in their own homes for quite some time. 

In conclusion, as we forge ahead, don’t forget the four Ps: Product, Price, Profit, and Promotion. And for a bonus fifth, Phases. We’re entering the next step of the journey—there will be more to come. Stay focused, be agile, and pivot if necessary.

Learn more about our leadership in the New York and New Jersey food distribution world, and connect with us to discuss how we can help elevate your menu with unique flavors and unparalleled quality.