Checklist to Reopen Your Restaurant

Restaurants reopening tips for chefs, managers, and owners in 2021


With Covid restrictions lifted and restaurants reopening, the checklist for ‘chefs and restaurant managers’ can be quite overwhelming. Here’s a tip from our Choco team: don’t freak out! This post will answer many of your questions on how to reopen your restaurant after COVID.

From reorganizing your space and menu to finding ways to pivot the 2021 hiring drought, here’s an exhaustive checklist for restaurants reopening.

Organize and clean your space

▢ Check out your local inspection requirements through your local health department and write down a plan to make sure you’re not forgetting anything.

▢ Evaluate your floor plan and consider reducing seating capacity to meet safety requirements while maximizing your staff’s capacity; maintain a 6-foot distance among tables if that is required in your local jurisdiction.

▢ Promote safety and place hand sanitizers around your space. Use digital menus when you can.

▢ Renovate your interior space and focus on ambiance to delight your guests.

▢ Sanitize tables and clean seating surfaces.

▢ Sanitize and clean the countertop.

▢ Don’t forget about walls, ceiling, and all the other overlooked surfaces such as backsplashes, high shelves, drawers, and even door handles.

▢ Disinfect prep areas using surface sanitizing products.

▢ Sweep, vacuum, and mop floors using floor cleaning products.

▢ Sanitize all bathrooms, disinfect toilets, and stock them with soap, toilet paper, and all required supplies.

▢ Refill all soap dispensers.

▢ Vacuum carpets in the front of house and wash anti-slip mats in the back of house.

Check the maintenance of tools and equipment

▢ Sanitize refrigerators and check their maintenance.

▢ Vacuum and clean your refrigerator coils to remove dust.

▢ Clean your ice machine and check its maintenance.

▢ Check your refrigerators' temperatures, including the back of house and walk-in refrigerators or display cases (40°F or below) and freezers (0°F or below).

▢ Check dishwasher's maintenance and clean it using appropriate detergent and making sure you empty the filter and clear it with a brush, clean spray nozzles, arms, and jets.

▢ Clean and check maintenance of ovens, stoves, and all cooking equipment including your deep fryer, microwave, coffee machine, toasters, meat slicers (make sure to unplug them).

▢ Check that all cooking equipment work and reach temperatures.

▢ Turn on the gas line and check that pilot lights work. You might experience some initial smoking due to condensation.

▢ Empty your grease trap and replace the lid if necessary.

▢ Sanitize, wash, and rinse all kitchen utensils.

▢ Clean the sinks and faucets, and check their maintenance.

▢ Disinfect waste disposal areas and make a plan for recycling.

▢ Replace old pest traps.

▢ Check your hoods maintenance and clean them.

▢ Wash aprons, towels, rags, uniforms, tablecloths, and napkins through the washing machine.

Manage your inventory

▢ Organize an inventory check together with your team.

▢ Check the expiration date of all goods.

▢ Make a list of all kitchen and front of house supplies you need, including but not limited to cleaning products, sponges, napkins, takeout containers, kitchen foil, and greaseproof paper.

▢ Stock up on face masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer for your restaurant staff.

▢ Reorganize all your shelves and drawers.

Reassess your Menu

▢ Check your latest sales report during this season to know which were the most popular items.

▢ Get in touch with your vendors and make a plan for the items that are not available.

▢ Calculate food costs and reassess your menu accordingly.

▢ Understand your new customers and consider changing your menu accordingly (for example, offering family meals or options for tourists).

▢ Consider using digital menus, boards, or disposable paper menus.

Build your team

▢ Notify your old staff and make sure all the paperwork is in place to bring them back. This might entail updating roles and descriptions on work contracts and verifying employment eligibility.

▢ Check on hiring platforms including websites and apps to recruit new staff.

▢ Consider creating an employee referral program and host a recruiting event.

▢ Consider offering benefits to your employees.

▢ Organize staff training sessions and make sure they are updated about all the new changes such as contactless service, new menu, delivery, inspection rules, or cleaning schedule.

Communicate with your customers

▢ Update your opening hours, type of offer including delivery or indoor dining, and contact information on online platforms such as Google and Yelp.

▢ Update your payment methods to include the latest contactless payment options.

▢ Organize a reopening event.

▢ Make sure you are spending some time advertising your business online. This entails updating your website, creating the buzz on social media (for example, through a Facebook event, paid Instagram post, or by contacting local influencers and blogs).

▢ Consider organizing a giveaway or offering special deals.