This year has been a challenge for venues of all types. Restaurants and bars are no doubt some of the hardest hit. With numbers spiking and higher customer tension on the line, customers care about their health and want to know that they're taken care of and in good hands with your restaurant. This isn't going to be your typical post where we tell you to keep your restaurant sanitized and clean. We're going to give you 6 tips to reduce spread of COVID-19 through your restaurant.

#1 Invest in Gas Heaters

Gas heaters allow people to eat outdoors

Investing in gas heaters is going to help you big time. When you buy decent gas heaters, you're going to still be able to sit customers out on your patio just like you did in the warm summer months. Customers are going to be MORE inclined to sit outside when you offer the option when you mention your newly installed gas heaters for them to sit and feel cozy under.  Here are a few on Amazon that are the highest-rated that we've seen restaurants buy and we've actually sat under, (they're nice and cozy.) People are going to be sick of being stuck indoors, so give them a reason to visit you when they see a social media blast with some new pictures of your outdoor dining area.

#2 Up Your Carryout Game

Carryout is essential in COVID-19

I'd prep your hostess to be answering more phone calls and your manager to be watching your online orders pour in. With numbers spiking and customers' well-being on the line more than ever, some just plain and simple won't want to risk their health to dine in. That's fine. However, your loyal patrons will still want to support your restaurant in any way they can. By making sure your website is up-to-date with your latest food dishes, (including your digital menu with Checkle) you will make your customer's life a lot easier to order effortlessly.

#3 Digital Menus

QR Codes are cleaner to use in COVID

One of the best ways to make sure your restaurant is secure this winter is by going to fully digital QR code menus. Customers want the most healthy and quick way to view your food. Most restaurants are switching to the new age of digital menus. Gone are the days that you have to go spend hundreds of dollars on your restaurant menus every six months, not to mention how gross and germ-infested those things can get. By switching to fully digital menus you will spend noticeably less money and provide customers with a more healthy dining experience. Checkle provides fully digital, contactless menus for free. In just three minutes, you throw in your restaurant menu and you get a link that will look something like this checkle.menu/pappys_pizza. Then, you get a permanent QR Code that will allow you to switch out your menus online at any time.

#4 Pre-Screen Employees

Be sure your employees stay healthy and safe

Pre-screening your employees before each shift can lead to fewer headaches later. Think about this, if you have an employee who infects other customers or employees, your restaurant can easily be shut down for two weeks and you might not be able to pay rent that month because of tight margins.  Encouraging employees to stay at home if they feel slightly sick is the smart move because you care about their health. It would be beneficial to look into hiring another part-time worker or two to pick up shifts every now and then, just in case something like that were to happen. Always have a backup plan.

#5 Air Out Your Restaurant

Get some fresh air in your restaurant as much as possible

"It's wintertime and it's cold, why on Earth would we do this?" Depending on where you live, you can have some mild, winter days that will allow this easily... (unless you're up north and then sorry I feel bad for you.) No, but seriously, this leads to a lower transmission rate of COVID-19. People argue this is because the restaurant's air isn't circulated well and there is a lot of people breathing in the same, recycled air as others. By opening up a window or two and getting fresh air in your restaurant, or even keeping your door open for periods of time, you can get fresh air pumping into your restaurant.

#6 Offer Discounts to Loyal Customers

Incentivize those who follow you to come into your restaurant with great discounts. A smart tactic for this is to target social media followers with discount codes specifically for them. Offer a 10% discount code for anyone who orders carryout for certain days of the week, like the infamous, slow Tuesday. You can offset slower times of the week by doing this, with not even 30 minutes of work upfront for you. You don't have to offer a large discount code to get your loyal customer's attention. Try it and let us know how it works for you this winter.

Overall, winter is going to be tough for any restaurant or bar. There is no silver bullet but hopefully doing some or all of these things will help your restaurant survive COVID-19.