How to save your restaurant/cafe from Covid-19 virus

Restaurants and cafe businesses have always been tough to operate even before Covid-19 made a global showdown. And now with the virus affecting the world and our lifestyle, it’s unpredictable what’s going to happen next.

We’re seeing a once-in-a-century behavioural shift as people self-quarantine, work from home and look after children who are now home-schooled. More people cook at home and we have become paranoid about where and how we get our food.

Even if a vaccine is created immediately right at this moment as you read the article, it will take at least 18 months before we see that being as common as someone wearing Nike shoes in the street. So one thing is for sure, food trends and eating habits will never be the same again. If restaurants and cafes were to stick to their usual operational system, chances of survival will be low.

China, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea that have somehow got the virus contained and has already made significant changes to adapt to this situation to provide more assurance to the customers.

Here are some suggestions on health precautionary steps to be taken before your food reaches the hands of your customers.

Prepare your staff

Restaurant training is not just a one time off business. It takes time and consistency to put everything in place. It is essential to ensure that your employees abide the rules and understand the reasons behind these extra steps required. Regular follow-ups and re-train if necessary to see that everyone in the team knows what to do.

  • Create a daily health checklist for employees.
    Get a decent infrared thermometer and record your staff’s body temperature every day before and after work. Keep the daily record for references to keep track of the health status of your employees.
    Make sure your customers can see that you’ve paid attention to details by putting this daily checkup list at the entrance visible for them
  • Clean your delivery countertop more often.
    Apart from the regular cleaning schedule in your kitchen daily, ensure that your staff cleans delivery counters more often where food is handed over to the delivery man.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
  • Ensure that Gloves, Masks, Hairnets and Aprons are available to everyone.
    This sounds ridiculous to repeat, but not all restaurants and cafes have provided basic protections to their employees. Ensure that yours does, and that staff know how to use protective devices.
    On the line wrote a really good article in details on how to clean your restaurant.  

Food safety — takeaway stickers

Create a little sticker that note 4 things:

  • The name of the staff preparing the takeaway order.
  • The time they have prepared the food
  •  If possible, the name of the driver who picked up the food
  • Your restaurant’s contact number.

This provides your customers with the peace of mind that you are concerned about who has been in contact with their food.

The sticker card from restaurants in China

Build an Online Menu

If your business has not adopted an online ordering system yet, now is a good time to start. Less paper and human contact is the way to make things work. Provide a QR code that customers can scan and access to your menu so they can order from takeaway counters or from home. Get help from marketingcan if you have no idea how to create one.

Go cashless

While many developed countries have already adopted cashless transactions, paper money is still the №1 payment choice for Thailand. Coronavirus fears will definitely push more consumers to opt for cashless transfers. Luckily for Thailand, with all the push in tech businesses following the Thailand 4.0 campaign, there are many options out there for the local businesses to choose from. KPay, Promptpay, Line wallet, the list goes on.

Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

Hire your own delivery drivers for neighbourhood delivery

Delivery services business have soared tremendously as we depend on food delivery apps to do our shopping while we stay at home. But these online food apps are not necessarily helping restaurants make the most of their sales as delivery apps’ commission per order is relatively high.

Grab is taking 30% commission off every order and Lalamove 45THB per trip + 7.2THB per km. If a cafe is selling 60THB for a cup of coffee, their daily profit will not be sufficient for them to cover their lease, utilities and employees’ salaries. The ultimate winners for this trend will be the delivery apps and large restaurant food chains.

This solution will therefore not be sustainable for small to medium F&B businesses. Getting your own bike and an employee to do the job around the neighbourhood while providing your customers with free delivery services. This will encourage people living around the neighbourhood to order directly from you.
Consider sharing the driver with your neighbours who have similar small businesses to cut the cost.

Takeout Queue Lines

Many restaurants and cafes have already adopted queues ever since the government has implemented curfews. Clear indication for customers who step in to take orders on the distance they need to keep in every queue will be helpful for them to maintain social distancing and also build trust that you care.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Sous-vide Delivery Food

With more people staying home to eat, sous-vide food can be a great alternative for consumers. Now with the pandemic situation, people are getting even more conscious about what they consume. Ready-made microwaveable food has been pretty common in European countries because consumers have less easily-accessible street food.

Of course, the cost of eating out is considerably higher than eating at home. When people are more conscious about sanitary and health issues, sous-vide food could be a better choice than street food.

More space for Dine-Ins when curfew is lifted

When the curfew of staying home is lifted off, restaurant set ups will probably be different from usual. Distance will need to be taken into consideration. People wouldn’t want to sit too close to strangers. 2metres or 6 ft distance will still need to be maintain. Visible barrier could actually give customers assurance and eat peacefully not getting freaked out with someone beside them coughing or sneezing due to the choking krapao smoke coming from the kitchen.

Visible signages will be needed to show that you care.

More visibility on Social Media

People have always eaten with their eyes first, and this is becoming even more important as walk-in dining has collapsed. Fewer people want to walk and explore restaurants and cafes that they are unfamiliar with.

Making good use of the social media channels to show off your food and drink offerings is critical at this time, specifically:

  • Facebook page
    Facebook is the most popular media for general users in Thailand. Making full use of what Facebook provides for your business page can make a great impact. One huge mistake your competitors are making is that 80% of them don’t have an online menu. Take some time to provide sufficient information to make ordering easy and painless.
  • Instagram
    Make good use of the technology you have on your phone to take great photos of what you create and promote on your Instagram page. Don’t forget to add a link to your main contact where your potential customer can reach out to make an order.
  • Line, FB Messenger, Watsapp and Wechat
    Make sure your customers can reach you wherever they are by cross-posting the same basic info to any messaging app your customers are likely to use.


Georgi has lived in Thailand on & off for almost 7 years now. French, born and grownup in Singapore, she has always believed that sustainability is the solution for the future. Having lived in several developed countries, she devotes herself to create more awareness on simple sustainable lifestyle for Thai locals and foreigners living or visiting Thailand.  

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September 5, 2018