The day is almost here. States across the country are beginning to lighten up their restaurant restrictions. We all need to start asking ourselves “What are we going to do once restrictions lift?”

COVID-19 is the biggest challenge that restaurants have had to face. Doors have never been closed for this amount of time and people want to reconnect over food again. So, get your safety measures in place and begin planning.

It’s important to do something creative to capitalize on this opportunity. In some ways, a grand re-opening might be your best bet, or does this call for more of a celebration? To help you out, we’ve created some ideas for you, all maintaining social distancing, that you can use.

Here are four ideas to use when you’re ready to open your doors again:

1. Grand Re-Opening

Every restaurant was differently affected by the COVID crisis. Under the unique circumstances, some restaurants were forced to close their doors indefinitely. But, as we try to navigate towards recovery, a grand re-opening may be in your future.

You’ll want to begin by putting all new safety precautions in place. The National Restaurant Association recently released its Reopening Guidance. This is set up for operators with the best practices to help reduce the exposure of COVID-19. Most importantly, you want to have a safe opening.

In preparation, build buzz about your re-opening in your local magazine or newspaper. Make it known on your social media but remind your guests’ social distancing will be enforced.

You want to incentivize your customers to come to your re-opening. You can do this by offering a special discount or promotion to the first 100 diners.

Check out this opening checklist to help you with all the steps needed to move forward.

2. So Long COVID Celebration

This calls for a toast! Restaurants were under strict orders but, now it’s almost time to see familiar faces again. Some states have finally allowed businesses to re-open with certain guidelines. Either way, it’s something to celebrate.

Maximum occupancy is most likely altered in restaurants but you can host a party online. Set a time and date for your guests to join you for a virtual celebration. An online party will help keep your guests safe and also maintain social distancing.

Many applications have become available for video chats such as Zoom and Skype. Get the word out on your social media, website, and in-store to get more guests to join. You can also create small flyers with this information and include it in all your takeout meals.

As long as you abide by your state guidelines, you can also do this in your restaurant. It’s best to give your guests options in which they would feel most comfortable. If done inside, make sure your guests are properly spaced out. Your celebration can be an all-day event in which people can come and go. This allows your guests to come in when it’s convenient and safe for them.

During this time, you can also go live with your customers online. Instagram and Facebook are great platforms to go on and express your gratitude. This celebration is a milestone and it’s a way for you to thank your guests for their continued support.

3. Outdoor Servicing and Events

Make the most out of the time everybody is spending outdoors. With stay at home orders, people have been longing to once again attend events. Outdoor events allow for the space that people need to remain apart from each other and still have a good time.

Some states have even begun to allow outdoor dining to reopen. With this, you can plan events such as live music on the patio or even trivia nights outside.

Another idea is if your restaurant has ever considered going mobile, now is the time to test the waters. Put yourself up at a local park or beach boardwalk to attract more guests. These are prime examples of places where you want to hold events because of high visibility.

In addition to an outdoor event, if you are able, this can also be a charity event. In this time we have seen more giving back than ever before. Consider hosting an event in which profits from the night go to a local charity. This can capture more support from your community and help those affected by COVID-19.

4. Partnering with Multiple Restaurants for Pop-ups

Once gatherings are permitted, partner with local restaurants to create a pop-up event. This is an opportunity for many restaurants to showcase their local favorites. By doing this, you can show your local customers you’re all in this together.

Get creative and partner with restaurants that all compliment each other. This pop-up can feature one restaurant’s popular drinks and then another’s dessert.  Consumers tend to be attracted to creative eating experiences.

An easy way of doing this is to get involved with your local farmers market. Farmer’s markets are held weekly, sometimes even daily in different locations. Getting involved in these can increase your exposure and credibility within the community.

Looking into the future, community partnership is still going to be prevalent. Restaurants are integral parts in communities and a pop-up event is a fun way of showcasing this.

Creativity was never under quarantine

The reality is each restaurant and its guests are all in very different situations. Nobody knows how long it will take to come out of the 2020 COVID crisis. Right now, varying guidelines in each state will only allow you to do so much.

These ideas are meant to be done in the future when the time is right. Until then, use these tactics as a base idea and do what works best with your restaurant. These events can help you reconnect with your community and customers. It’s all about giving your guests something to look forward to. You want to get them excited and give them hope that soon they can reconnect over your food again.

It’s time to get planning. When it’s the right time, use our communication checklist to get the word out. Use these ideas to jump-start the need for dining in once again. These will allow people to do their part and restore communities at the same time.

Give your restaurant the proper tools to recover from COVID-19 with our help. Download our free COVID-19 Restaurant Recovery Guide today to get started.