Restaurant owners, you know just how tough it’s been since Covid hit. But you haven’t let that stop you. Through innovation and creativity, you’ve found ways to grow your business. And you’re sharing that knowledge with the whole community, so everyone can succeed.

To find out the best tips for restaurant owners looking to grow their business during the pandemic and beyond, we talked to Bob Luz, president of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association

Top Tips for Restaurant Owners Right Now 

Just at the moment where many restaurants are giving up hope, we’re starting to see the other side.

Bob Luz, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association

“Just at the moment where many restaurants are giving up hope, we’re starting to see the other side,” says Bob, citing mass vaccination and outdoor dining as positive steps in the right direction.

Keep reading to hear more of Bob’s helpful and hopeful insights.

Take advantage of all of the aid coming to restaurants 

There are more funding options for restaurants than ever before—PPP, state grants, and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund—to name a few. 

To get started, reach out to your accountant or bank to see what options you qualify for and how you can ensure that qualified loans can be forgiven. 

There’s money out there, so go get it.

Ramp up your hiring now for the rest of the spring and summer

Hiring is a challenge under normal circumstances, but this year will likely be harder than ever for restaurant owners. Many former employees had to leave the industry, so you will probably need to recruit new people.

Get ahead of it, and start now so that you’re not understaffed when business picks up this spring.

Optimize for takeout

The demand for take-out food skyrocketed during the pandemic with no signs of slowing down. So figure out how you can improve your customer’s takeout experience to match their needs.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Ensure that your food travels well. What might you need to adjust in both the cooking and packaging to make your food quality top-notch outside of your restaurant?
  • Think about how you can replicate in-restaurant dining at home.
  • Allocate additional resources to takeout and delivery.

Maximize your outdoor dining experiences

Outdoor dining has become incredibly popular as a result of Covid and it’s here to stay at least through the summer. So consider how you might create a special dining experience outside.

Invest in decor, tents, or outdoor furniture to make your set up stand out from the rest.

Bring back more celebrations and events

Because restrictions are lifting in some places, you can take advantage of the demand for celebrations, many of which were rescheduled due to the pandemic.

To ensure that customers use your space for their celebrations,  think of new and safe ways to host events. And communicate to your customers so they know what types of events you offer and how you run them.

Tap into of what promises to be a great regional tourism season

We’re already seeing that customers are itching to get out of the house after a year at home.

Due to widespread vaccinations, many will feel more comfortable traveling within driving distance and visiting tourist attractions in their region this summer—great news for restaurant owners.

Anticipate this demand and start marketing toward out of towners. Boost your social media presence, or contact your local chamber of commerce to find out how to get your name out there.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel for Restaurant Owners

“We’re on a journey without a map, but we’ve seen a renewed confidence in dining out in the US that hasn’t been there before. Our newly vaccinated guests are coming back indoors in droves,” Bob says.

And for good reason—restaurants are “community gathering places, places to celebrate, mourn, and meet your neighbors,”  he points out. And they get people back onto Main Street, which provides a “vibrancy that has been missing from our lives.”

So take heart and take action. The restaurant industry has a bright future.

What tips can you share with fellow restaurant owners on how to boost business this spring and summer? Let us know in the comments.

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