COVID-19 has changed a lot, including our concepts of connection and space. That’s a tall order for the restaurant industry; we’re used to looking at an empty room and identifying ways to maximize floor space to accommodate tables, bars, and service stations.
While our drive for maximization has outlasted this pandemic, we are now looking at space differently. Social distancing, personal protection equipment, and new hygiene and sanitation standards will change how you and your customers interact with your restaurant, but don’t let those changes limit you. Investing in key temporary storage solutions lets you protect your employees and customers while utilizing every inch of space.
Here are our top five tips to maximize your restaurant space during a pandemic.
Re-opening a restaurant during a pandemic means you’ll have a lot of new equipment to deal with. Masks, hand sanitizers, gloves, face shields…they add up. By keeping these new and useful items in a storage unit (which you can set up behind your establishment), you can safely use every inch of your available indoor space.
The kitchen is the heart of any restaurant. From beachside cafés to five-star establishments, a good kitchen is a key to culinary success. But restaurant kitchens tend to become storage facilities for equipment and supplies that are rarely used, leading to a cluttered environment. Social distancing means your cooks need space, so if you haven’t made anything sous vide in months, why not house your unused equipment elsewhere, making your kitchen a safer and more practical space for your employees?
As your customers return to your restaurant after months of lock-downs and stay-at-home orders, they will be excited to reconnect with their favorite foods and wines…but they will probably also be nervous and worried about staying safe. Your employees will likely feel the same way; they’ve been waiting for months to get back to their livelihoods, but they will also probably have some reservations about interacting with customers and each other.
By installing hand sanitation stations and other sanitation areas outside your restaurant, you will assure your customers and employees that they are being protected and cared for. You’ll also be showing your community that you’re a business that puts health and safety first.
If you’re worried about cost or the permanence of these fixtures, look into rentals. They tend to be cheaper than buying these products outright and would allow you to get these stations installed in a more immediate time-frame.
As indoor space becomes more limited, it’s time to get creative. By putting a tent and some mobile bathrooms outside, you have just added a ton of square footage to your usable restaurant space. This equipment is easy to rent, and beautifully decorated tents can make for a romantic and stylish indoor dining alternative. If you live in a city with cold winters, don’t discount this idea too quickly. Throw some heat lamps or portable heating equipment into that tent and you’ve just created a gorgeous (and safe!) winter dining oasis.
This one may seem like a misnomer in the restaurant industry, but with less clutter and equipment in your space, you will be able to serve more customers (safely), maintain a larger staff (avoiding layoffs!), and be able to recoup any profit losses more quickly.
Office storage can be a lifesaver in this regard, offering space to offload unused equipment and other items that may have fit into your restaurant pre-COVID but that are now taking up valuable space. While storage may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about ways to retain your current staff, finding ways to maximize your space will enhance all aspects of your operation, including your ability to maintain employees.
Human beings thrive on routine. We have our Friday night date spots and our favorite office coffee machines. COVID-19 showed the world that adaptation is survival, and we routine-bound humans have taken a collective breath to rethink how we work, eat, and play.
As a restaurant owner or employee, you have had to figure out how to serve your community while keeping yourself in business. This isn’t easy! We commend the inventiveness and ingenuity that you have shown in this moment. Let our guide to new storage solutions support you in re-thinking your space and ensuring that your customers and staff are safe and healthy.
COVID-19 is strong, but the restaurant community is stronger. We’ve got this. Davida Redmond is the leader of the Marketing team of Mobile Mini; the world’s leading provider of portable storage solutions committed to providing our customers with superior services and access to a high-quality and diverse fleet.