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Reopening your Restaurant after COVID-19: 5 things to know


Provinces across Canada have begun to turn their attention to reopening. While we don’t have exact dates and we still can’t be sure about what the future holds, the general consensus is that restaurants and other businesses, need to start thinking and preparing for a reopening. While this is welcome news, there’s a lot to consider before unlocking your front doors.

Here are five things restaurant operators need to know about reopening their restaurants:

Plan for changes

What is your plan for the days before you open to get ready for your customers? What is your plan for opening day and what are you going to do in the weeks that follow? 

You probably are going to need to have some well-thought-through, best, worst, and probable scenarios to ensure that you are not overwhelmed and surprised.  Consider that perhaps your customers have changed their buying patterns; that their finances may not be the same as they were previously; that what might have been valuable before is valued no longer.

Engage your team

Recruiting and retention in the foodservice industry have always been a challenge, and with many employees having been laid off due to COVID-19, rehiring is now top of mind. Though the challenge still remains.

Figure out who is coming back and who isn’t. Some of your team may have rethought their employment with you. There might be others that you realize just didn’t fit in your business and you are going to sever your relationship.

Retain the staff that you have, and empower and engage them in the workplace. Your staff is your livelihood, so encourage them to help you to generate a plan to reopen and reinvigorate your business. 

Have a safety plan

Customers and staff that need reassurance that your business has safety protocols in place to reduce their risk.  Ensure you do, and minimize risks for everyone.

Some safety practices to consider include:

  • Communicating proper handwashing procedures with signage
  • Implement social distancing measures in the restaurant
  • Ensure safety measures with delivery and takeout

For health and safety resources, see the Restaurants Canada COVID-19 Resource Page.


Suppliers may be out of stock of items because their supply chain has been disrupted. Talk to them. As owners, we think that everyone should be on the same page as we are, including our staff, our bankers, our family, our customers, landlords, and our suppliers. They can’t read our minds. Slow down and ensure that each of your stakeholder groups understands the requirements of the present situation.

Your customers are going to need to hear from you and you must find ways to educate them and invite them back to your business. You may think you want to cut your marketing costs, but be strategic in this process.  Businesses that marketed well in times of recession outperformed their competitors.

Take advantage of help

There are government programs to support you. Take advantage of business programs that will support you. Tap into loans or grants that will ensure your viability. The Professional Business Coaches are offering Free No Strings Attached Business Coaching sessions at

Finally, take time to reach out to your support network of business owners, trusted advisors, and others in your industry to find out what they are doing to re-open and establish how you can support each other.  Learn from them and replicate the best of their ideas.

Having a clear idea of what your next steps are will reduce your stress and help you have confidence in your decisions.  This is a difficult time.  There is much uncertainty, and you are likely to feel overwhelmed. This is natural.  Taking one small step at a time and putting some thought into how you are going to proceed will have a calming effect on you and those around you.

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