At KitchTech we eliminate paperwork in commercial kitchens, make it simple to comply with food safety legislation and provide online food safety training courses.

We have been in constant communication with our customer base, listening to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and brainstorming initiatives to survive during this pandemic. From these discussions we have compiled our list of the 5 Ways Your Restaurant Can Survive COVID-19.

1. Start a Takeaway Today

“You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.” – Albert Einstein.

Many restaurants already had a takeaway offering at the start of COVID-19, they have been able to close their dine-in offering and focus on their takeaway business relatively seamlessly.
Some of our customers have gone so far as to provide a drive through service whereby the customer takes the following steps:

(a) Order is called in.
(b) Paid by credit card.
(c) Takeaway is dropped into the car window in a sealed bag.

This is a clever initiative as it ensures that good hygiene standards are kept, social distancing guidelines are adhered to, whilst also creating a quirky, fun new narrative for you and your customers to shout about.

Below is a dataset showing the percentage decrease in dine-in bookings on the leading restaurant reservation app, Open Table. The table compares the relevant day in March with the same day last year. As of 19/03/20, we can see in Ireland that dine in reservations are down 99% versus the 19/03/19. It is also interesting to note, from the table below how much sooner Irish diners reacted to COVID-19 versus the UK and Australia.

One thing I think we can all agree on, is that takeaways are going to be the order of the day, while the short to medium term future of the dine in option is uncertain. So, don’t wait, start your takeaway today!

2. Revisit Your Menu – Be Bold!

“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” –J.K. Rowling

Your restaurant may be a French Brasserie or an American Steakhouse that doesn’t typically lend itself well to takeaways. You need to attack this problem with the same enthusiasm, energy and innovative thinking that you brought to your business when you were just starting out.

If you are a French Brasserie, perhaps you could do your own version of the traditional Fish and Chips or the American Steakhouse could create a takeaway burger menu using steak-mince. Don’t wave the white flag, get creative and be bold!

According to Flipdish (a popular online ordering system for restaurants) in the past two weeks, there has been a 7% increase in takeaways ordered between 3pm and 6pm. Most likely, this is due to the increased number of people working from home being able to eat dinner earlier and perhaps ordering for the family dinner. The family unit has never been so important, so consider including something for all the family such as midweek family deal or a healthy kid’s menu, even at lunchtime.

(a) Keep the menu limited so as not to end up with unused stock.
(b) Where possible, use ingredients that can be reused in multiple dishes.
(c) Focus on your most profitable dishes.
(d) Consider an offering for all the family including kids.

Your customers loved you as a dine in, they will love you and support you as a takeaway too.

3. Social Media

“You are what you share” – Charles Leadbeater

If your restaurant hasn’t embraced social media to date, now is the perfect time to start. Not since World War II, has there been so many people cocooned up in their home. In contrast to 1945, we now have social media as an outlet for our boredom, thus, engagement has never been higher. This provides you with an opportunity.

Social media is the most effective tool for communicating with your customer base about your new takeaway menu, your opening hours and your latest COVID-19 initiative.
Your customer base will interact with you, they will like and share your posts. They will take pictures of themselves and their families enjoying your takeaway food to post on their social media accounts further spreading the good news about your offering.

As the owner of your restaurant, you need to leverage the engaging personality you use when greeting customers and bring it to your social media account. So, take some selfies, speak to the camera on Instagram stories and if you are feeling brave, do a live Q&A video! It is uncomfortable at first, but it will be much more impactful, and your customers will love it.
You can also use social media to generate revenue by promoting and selling:

(a) Discounted wine from your wine racks.
(b) Discounted dine-in vouchers for a future date.
(c) Restaurant merchandise to be collected on reopening night.

So, dig out that Facebook and Instagram login and start sharing today!

4. Sanitise and Be Proud!

“We’re asking people to come together as a nation by staying apart from each other,” – Leo Varadkar

As a restaurant owner or head chef it is imperative you put in place strict hygiene controls around operating your business during COVID-19. You will need to make the extra effort to ensure your staff, your suppliers and your customers stay safe and healthy during this time.

Key hygiene initiatives include:

(a) Practice social distancing of 1 to 2 metres between staff.
(b) Wipe down all regularly touched surfaces, such as, counter tops, fridges, light switches and door handles with alcohol-based sanitiser.
(c) All Staff to wash their hands properly (for 20 seconds) and regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitiser.
(d) Sterilize dishes, cutlery and glasses using a dishwasher with a rinse cycle of 82°C.
(e) Only staff feeling fit and well and not showing any symptoms of COVID-19 to be at work.

Put yourself in your customers shoes: They want to know that you are doing everything in your power to keep the highest possible standards of hygiene. So, make sure to tell them about it on social media. Share pictures of your staff wearing masks and gloves, show them images of spotless kitchens and social distancing measures, it will put your customers at ease and increase orders.

At KitchTech we are providing a free of charge digital COVID-19 Fitness to Work Assessment and a COVID-19 Cleaning Checklist. To avail of this offer, send an email to David@kitchtech.ie and we’ll send you your digital checklists asap.

5. Communicate with Stakeholders

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” – Plato

It is a stressful time to own a café, restaurant or a hotel. Social distancing guidelines and public fear have devastated dine-in revenue while fixed costs such as rent, rates and loan repayments remain. Strong communication skills are going to be important to the survival of your business. You need to pick up the phone and call (don’t text, email or whatsapp) your suppliers, your bank manager, your investor, your landlord and your staff.

(a) Suppliers: If you are going to be late on payments this month and need extended credit let them know. They are businesses too so will need to be paid but might be able to offer you a period of grace or create a payment plan. The fact that you picked up the phone and told them rather than simply avoiding them will be greatly appreciated.

(b) Bank Manager & Investor: Your bank manager and your investor (if you have one) are the sources of your financing and they need to be made aware of your financial situation and your financing needs going forward. They are much more likely to work with you if you are upfront, honest and give them time rather than springing the bad news on them.

(c) Landlord: If you need some grace on rent call the landlord before it is due, they will be disappointed but it’s likely that they will understand. They are not going to be able to find a new tenant in the current climate. Don’t hoard cash if you can afford to pay them, but otherwise, communicate with them and work out a plan together.

(d) Staff: It is likely that, you will have had to lay-off many of your staff at this point. While it seems like doomsday currently, it is important to remember that your business will return to normal within months and you will need these staff members again. Keep in contact with them, let them know you are thinking of them and keep them in the loop regarding business updates.

A little bit about KitchTech…

At KitchTech we eliminate paperwork in commercial kitchens, make it simple to comply with food safety legislation and provide online food safety training courses.
On the 14th of March 2019, just over a year ago, KitchTech formally incorporated. We didn’t have investors, we didn’t have a product that was ready for market and we certainly didn’t have any customers!

We used to pick an area in Dublin such as Temple Bar, Ranelagh or Rathmines, park the car and go to door to door asking to speak to the Head Chef or the General Manager to pitch them the KitchTech idea. At this point we had a very basic prototype but nothing we could expect to sell. There is a famous quote by Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, which really resonates with software entrepreneurs: “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late”. At KitchTech, we certainly did not launch too late!

We found the restaurant owners, general managers and head chefs to be extremely hard working, talented and compassionate men and women. Even though, they were busy with purchasing, marketing and rostering they would all make time to sit down, review our product, consider it and give us their honest feedback. These first few months were the most important in KitchTech’s existence as from these fifty meetings, we created the roadmap for the product as it is today. The team at KitchTech, will always be grateful to those first fifty restaurateurs and hoteliers for being so generous with their time and giving us a chance.

Fast forward one year, we have a killer product, a great team of engineers, we have a supportive investor and we have over 150 wonderful customers. We are honoured to serve the hospitality industry with our world class food safety solution.

We have several COVID-19 initiatives that can help food businesses during this difficult period as follows:

1. COVID-19 Checklists: Free of charge digital COVID-19 Fitness to Work Assessment and Cleaning Checklist – Email David@kitchtech.ie to request.
2. Online Training: Excellent group deals to upskill staff while you have some downtime – Online Food Safety (HACCP) Level 1 & 2 Courses
3. Multi-Venue: Free Multi Venue Functionality to allow you to manage the food safety records and COVID-19 forms for multiple locations remotely.

If you think KitchTech can be of help in any way to your food business, please contact David@kitchtech.ie. We would love to hear from you.

David Moran
Managing Director
KitchTech