COVID-19 and Restaurants: Ideas to Survive

There is no doubt the restaurant industry has been hit very hard by the Covid-19/corona virus.

The main sales channel, customers walking in the door, disappeared overnight. You can’t completely and immediately remove the core sales channel of any business and expect it to continue without making changes. The New York Times published an article, David Chang isn’t sure the restaurant industry will survive Covid-19.

The fact is the restaurant industry has moved online. Restaurants need to adjust or they just won’t be able to survive.

This is a list of some things your restaurant should consider to survive during this difficult time. It may not be enough, but it’s a start.

1. Take advantage of as much assistance as possible

Take as much advantage of relief assistance as possible to keep employees and the doors open for as long as possible. Restaurants that are able to remain open as long as possible will make it through and be open when you are able to open the doors.

2. Offering Delivery is a must

Use any many delivery methods as possible. Restaurants now need to take make it as easy as possible to deliver as much as possible through as many channels as possible. Make it as easy as possible for guests to order. Include Doordash, Uber Eats, GrubHub, and even in-house delivery, if you can.  Larger portal type sites have marketing benefits but take a large commission share. Consider adding in house delivery, if it makes sense.

3. Offering Pickup is a must

Add pickup services. Make sure to follow local requirements. Have Order online buttons high on your website, above the fold, and highly visible.

4. Make menu changes

The menus you currently have are designed for the way you use to do business. The business has changed. Adjust the menu so it makes sense today. This may mean reducing the number of menu items, changing the portion size, combining deals like dinner for 2 or family options. A reduced menu has the advantage of simplifying the order process and options online, as well as reducing inventory for less popular items.

5. Have an updated website

Restaurant operations have gone digital. It’s critical to make sure you have a mobile-friendly website and it’s updated with current hours, delivery options, and menus. This is how people are going to find you and know you are open and still in business.

6. Step-up your Social Media game

Get the word out. People are at home and using social media more. They have more time on their hands and are using social media to stay in touch with the world. WhatsApp has seen a 40% increase. Facebook usage is through the roof. This is a major advantage you can take advantage of if you are using social media to your advantage.

7. Start Selling Kits

Instead of the cooked meals, consider selling kits. That is, if you usually sell pizza, start offing pizza kits, the raw ingredients with instructions. If you’re a bakery, offer cookie baking kits. This is a novel idea because it also provides bored people staging at home something to do.

8. Sell gift certificates

Start selling gift certificates that can be used on future orders or visits. This increases cash flow now when it’s needed the most.

9. Partner with local essential businesses

There are local businesses and government agencies which must remain open. Consider partnering with them to offer delivery, catering options or discount meal plans for workers not allowed to stay home. Some of these businesses include hospitals, first responders, delivery companies, grocery stores.

10. Offer Liquor to go

Some states like California have reduced the limitations on selling liquor for restaurants. Make sure you abide by the rules, like closed containers and must be sold with food.

11. Email Campaigns

If you have guest data, start using that to your advantage. Email customers to let them know of any specials, discounts, or news updates.

12. Cooking Classes

With people stuck at home, offer bundle groceries and online cooking classes, so they can enjoy your restaurants’ favorite dishes in the safely of their own home. This not only gives customers a chance to socialize but enjoy food in a new way.


If you have any ideas that you’d like to share, please comment below. Working together and sharing will help everyone.

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