Tips For Pivoting Your Restaurant To Groceries
The novel coronavirus has upended the hospitality industry at every level. With restaurants closed to in-house dining, restaurants are pivoting to stay in business. For many, that has translated to an uptick in off-premise offerings, from carryout or curbside pickup to delivery. Faced with diminished options for revenue and a rise in off-premise competition, some restaurants have completely restructured their business by becoming a grocery. Our tips to pivoting your restaurant to groceries can provide a valuable stop-gap until life can return to some kind of normal.
This Has All Happened Before
It’s worth remembering that we’ve been here before and that smart people have already tried to warn us. Not only has humanity endured numerous pandemics throughout history, but we’ve typically evolved our processes to enhance our lives for the better as a result. Economically speaking, whether it was through legislation, warfare, or something else, businesses have changed up their models quickly and efficiently to rise to those challenges and persevere. That’s all to say that, because we know it’s happened, we also know that we’ll persevere and come out stronger in the end.
Many people live in a food desert, and that dearth of available resources is a niche you can help fill. Opening a grocery store right now is kind of like warfare: you can pivot your business into something that will help people immediately, and fiscally solvent.
Switching from one business model to the next is no small feat. Do you have the necessary goods to quickly pivot from a restaurant to a grocery? Have you talked to your supplier? Do you have the literal infrastructure necessary for a grocer or bodega operator? Do you have hands free payment? Let’s look at a few of the things you need to make your transition to groceries as easy as possible.
Reorganize the Space
First things first: make sure you have the space. Irrespective of your square footage, your restaurant is almost certainly set up already with guests in mind. The best thing you can do here is to make sure that you’re clearing adequate space to hold your goods, including the room for people to move around each other with the requisite six feet required for appropriate social distancing. Move any superfluous furniture into storage of some sort, whether that’s into a separate area or possibly a room you have to set aside for such. You might consider laying out tape at six-foot intervals depending on your traffic, to let people know safe distances for shopping, especially in cramped spaces.
Set Up Shelving
Now that you’ve moved your furniture, set up your shelving. Average shelf spaces are around between 12-18 inches in-depth, and there are calculations that you can use to best determine what you might need. Still, your shelf dimensions are worth consideration when you’re thinking how much product you want to stock. Remember: you can keep more depending on your available storage area, and just replenish your shelves accordingly.
In all likelihood, you already have a supplier for your restaurant needs. Check with your current supplier for constraints on the types of things consumers might want out of your bodega/grocery. The downside is that your current supplier might be a little more expensive than a typical grocer, as restaurant and grocery suppliers aren’t quite the same. The good news is that the current supply chain is robust, although there are some logistical constraints that might slow things down considerably.
Make It Legal
Whether you’re in the U.S. or abroad, different places have different regulations on how businesses can operate. You might not be somewhere zoned for or allowed to just switch your operations without some kind of legal logistics. And while these are drastic times calling for drastic measures, you don’t want to inadvertently shoot yourself in the foot later on down the line. Contact your local business association and make sure that you have taken the appropriate steps to pivot accordingly.
Once You’re Out There
Now that you have your storefront set up, there are a few more steps to go. Whether this is a short-term or long-term arrangement, there is upkeep to any operation. So what can you do to sustain your COVID-19 related business solution? Let’s look at how your restaurant can complete the transition in business models, and how you can help spread the word.
Stocking and Restocking
Rightfully so, grocery store workers are anxious about working in the public. Pivoting your restaurant to groceries emphasizes the importance we have for our supply chain workers, who are typically among the lowest wage income workers we have. One simple thing that any grocer can do right now, is to make certain that you have the proper precautions to guarantee the safety of your employees and any and all potential guests.
Across the board, grocery stores are considered an essential business. That’s a good thing in the sense that you can open up shop and stay solvent during tough financial times, but potentially dangerous. When you’re stocking up on disinfectants and cleaning supplies, keep an appropriate amount for yourself. Employ touch-free payment options, such as paying by phone or through a web portal. If that’s not possible, keep sanitary wipes and hand sanitizer available to use after payments. While it doesn’t seem like the virus is transmitted by contact with exposed surfaces, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Now that you’ve made the leap, let everyone know. There are a host of social media resources out there right now that you can use to share the information that you are pivoting your restaurant to groceries. Beyond that, the media is still considered an essential business and they are likely hungry for your news story. Especially in food deserts, this is an especially great story and one that people will want to know. You have the opportunity to stay afloat until you can re-open as the restaurant you’d set out as, and you can provide an invaluable resource to your area.
This moment in time is difficult for everyone, and as a restaurant, you’re in a particularly vulnerable position. While there are a number of options available to you to take care of your business, our guide to pivoting your restaurant to groceries is one that can help you have an immediate impact on the world around you. Make sure that you play it safe, keep clean, and stay legal and you’re on your way.
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About the Author
Syd is a content marketing specialist, which are fancy words for writing pretty to tell a good story. He likes writing things about food, drinks, and music. He’s a musician himself, a father of two, and loves his wife a whole lot. He’s at home like the rest of the world right now but finding time to play with the kids and create art.