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Part Two: Adjusting Operations for Your Physical Space

Health and safety guidelines and diner expectations call for changes to your operations and dining-room design. This section outlines adjustments you can make.

Capacity Limitations

On-Premise Updates

Your Floor Plan

Reforecasting Your Revenue

Adapting to Capacity Limitations

Online Ordering

With reduced seating at the same overhead cost, online ordering provides an additional revenue stream for many restaurants. 

Bar chart of diners still considering ordering online post-COVID-19

Indoor and Outdoor Seating Arrangements

Consider adding partitions between tables to increase guest comfort and feelings of security while dining. Of course, the look and feel of a partition must be carefully considered with your brand aesthetic, but here are some options: 

  • Plexiglass dividers in areas with seating less than 6 feet apart

  • A partition between food preparation and guest seating for open concepts

  • Plastic partitions for lower cost dividers

If you have outdoor space that’s available, contact your landlord or city to ask for flexibility with adding outdoor seating. 

A family dining at a restaurant with booth partitions and an overlay of a cashier behind a plexiglass barrier
source: The Washington Post, TechXplore
a person in a blue shirt

“At this early stage, we are seeing several states place priority on outdoor seating for safe reopening. Talk to your landlord or city to see if they will allow you to create an outdoor cafe in underutilized spaces in these special circumstances.”

Allison Cooke | Principal at CORE Architecture & Design

On-Premise Updates

Single-use menus

73% of U.S. diners have concerns with touching a reusable menu when restaurants reopen.

Table signs with written statements

78% of U.S. diners have concerns with the cleanliness of a table and prepared foods.

Floor stickers

Social distancing floor stickers help practice the recommended egress flow.

Hand sanitizer

You can purchase hand sanitizer and disposable bags for guests to place face masks in to avoid contact with tables and chairs.

Door handle adjustments

There are foot and arm door handle alternatives to open a door without using your hand to twist or turn.

Single-use condiments

Package ketchup, salt, pepper, sugar, etc. so it’s easy for guests to pick up for the table or the server to bring over with gloves.

Electronic health declaration forms

These should require a name, phone number, and/or email or every guest in a party dining with you. Email addresses help you grow your database.

Contactless ordering

Whether through a QR code or other technology, there are options to reduce server interaction and increase table-turn speed.

a man and woman posing for a picture

“Handing out a single-use paper menu to every guest is wasteful. We are focusing efforts on utilizing our hanging menus as the only menus available during this time.”

Lauren A Greene | Owner at The Grove Cafe & Market - Albuquerque, NM

Mock Service

Before opening, have friends and family help with mock service or mock flow. Try out all apparel and apparatuses and see if it all works. Do they understand what you’re trying to convey and offer? Do your staff members practice the correct protocol for switching gloves and cleaning surfaces?

Close up shot of a waiter taking orders in a restaurant

Your Floor Plan

Here are some tips from CORE Architecture & Design: 

  • Convert bars to takeout order staging and pickup points for your food runners.

  • Remove any tables near food expediting, dish return, and your host area.

  • Readjust seats to face out for loose tables and wherever possible. 

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to contact your reservations platform to adjust your inventory on any public listings like Resy or OpenTable.


An example floor plan with Resy and OpenTable logos
source: CORE DC

“We believe guests will feel safer when dining when they can see that they are safe. When reorienting tables for social distancing, we recommend that you try "face-out" arrangements for tables so that servers can safely approach and guests have a view out into the dining room.”

Allison Cooke | Principal at CORE Architecture & Design

Reforecasting Your Revenue

Is it economically viable to reopen with on-premise dining as your single source of income? 

Here is a helpful guide from Reopen Hospitality to build a financial model. 

This exercise walks you through a 13-week cash flow analysis, so you can prepare for the next 3 months and beyond. 

A chef making calculations in her notebook

Revenue Drivers


Pro Tip: Consider ecommerce offerings for your website if you haven’t yet. 

Cost Drivers

  • Labor 

  • Cost of goods sold

  • Rent, utilities, and any other occupancy costs

  • Disposables

  • PPE

  • Additional cleaning materials

  • Marketing expenses

  • General administrative costs



Here is how to project your on-premise dining revenue

  • Multiply your new seating capacity * number of table turns expected per shift * number of this type of shifts per week * average revenue per party
  • Repeat for each shift type. Then add revenue for each shift type to calculate out revenue for the week. 
  • To calculate the number of table turns per shift, look at each table. How many parties do you expect that table to be filled by during a given shift? Your table turns should factor in your busy times and shoulder times. 

For dinner, let’s say you will have five tables occupied. Three tables are three tops (can fit three guests); three are four-tops (can fit four guests). You think you'll be able to turn each of these tables twice during early dinner from 5-7PM and then three times from 7-11PM.

New seating capacity: 21
Number of table turns expected per shift: 5
Number of shifts per week: 6 (let’s say I’m open for dinner Monday through Saturday)
Average revenue per dinner shift:  $110 for 3-top, $150 for 4-top. So the average is $130. 

Revenue for dinner shift across 1 week = 21 * 5 * 6 * $130 = $81,900

Make sure that you incorporate any new packaging or single-use costs into your cost sum. So say it will now cost you an additional $10 per meal for disposable silverware, menus, and table cleaning. You should multiply that $10 by your seating capacity * table turns per shift * shifts per week to calculate packaging costs for that shift across the full week. In this case, it would be $6,300 for the week.