Preparing for the Return

Mar 14, 2021

By now, your wait staff and workers are well versed in COVID-19 safety protocols: masks, gloves, distancing, sanitizing, occupancy awareness—the whole nine yards. These measures are key to following local and state mandates, no doubt. As more strides are being made in the fight against this unforeseen pandemic, there now seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccine rollouts are here, and people are getting them. With over a year of people feeling stuck and trapped in their homes with not much to do, a phenomenon of “pent-up demand” may be on the horizon.


We’ve all been relegated to watching movies at home, eating take-out at home, and experiencing the outside world on their computers at home. People are eager to finally get out and get back to normal. Restaurants should be prepared. No, that doesn’t mean we don’t need to follow health and safety guidelines —in fact, guests now would come to expect it.


Guests Returning for the First Time


We’ll need to acknowledge those guests who are willing to venture outside their home for the first time in a while, and some will need reassurances. For those who are noticeably anxious about dining out again, you can start by asking, “Are you comfortable with that seating arrangement?” or “Please let me know how we can increase your comfort level.” 


returning to restaurants


Starting the conversation will help increase comfort levels and build trust. When you can address the issue when you have the opportunity, you’ll own the situation. Encourage teams to inquire and thank returning guests who may have held off on dining out this past year. This show of empathy will help break down the barriers we’ve placed between us this past year.    


Now, when things do go back to a relative “normal,” your restaurant staff will need to brush back up on the basics. Training is key, and below are a few important points you’ll need to cover:


  • In-person customer service: when food isn’t out on time or a guest has another issue, it’s always good to understand how to handle these scenarios.
  • How to handle busy hours like lunch and dinner: brush up on managing orders and lines when there is an influx of guests.
  • Managing inventory: it’s always important to make sure inventory is sufficient, especially when you expect guest counts to get back to where they were.
  • Employee scheduling: there may be more staff on hand, so it’s important to iron out their schedules.
  • How to market promotions: to encourage more patrons, you’ll likely have a promotion as things get back to normal. Training your staff properly to let guests know about certain promotions is vital.

pent up demand


Synergy Restaurant Consultants has a cloud-based training program that can be utilized across multiple locations to train staff on best practices. Synergy has honed their 33 years of restaurant consulting experience in one simple-to-use eLearning platform, also available in Spanish.