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We can all probably agree that the past year has been hard on everyone – especially those in the restaurant industry. While things may not be completely back to normal yet, we are much closer to reaching a state of normal than we were last summer when we were in the thick of adapting to a global pandemic.

Since our lives are normalizing a bit more now, people everywhere have a newfound excitement for the coming summer months and this is especially true for those of us by the beach. This year business owners all over the greater Charleston-area are ramping up for a summer season that’s expected to be more typical than the summer of 2020 when many were still in a state of lockdown. With the impending crowds planning their summer getaways and locals getting excited to return to their usual summer outings, restaurant owners especially have to make sure they are ready.

This summer, preparing your restaurant for the busy season may look a little different than previous years. Your current staff may not have had to deal with large crowds in some time, you may be wondering how to make sure your restaurant is operating safely, or you may be concerned about attracting customers into your business. No matter what your concerns are, these tips are sure to help you prepare your restaurant for summer so you can open confidently.

1. Get your COVID protocol down
One of the biggest differences restaurant owners will face in their business this year is carefully implementing and managing the COVID-related regulations and protocols that are needed to keep staff and customers safe. Prior to the busy summer season, make sure you know what regulations are required in your area when it comes to social distancing, masks, alcohol curfews and more.

When it comes to social distancing protocol, consider ahead of time how you’ll need to set up your space to prevent overcrowding. Do you need to modify your bar or waiting area or is there a way to put more seating outside? You’ll also want to make sure that you have your cleaning protocol down. Your restaurant will almost certainly see an uptick in business as tourists and vacationers come into town, so make sure you have procedures in place that can be done even when your team and restaurant are busy.

2. Check your refrigeration systems

As temperatures rise the last thing you want is for your restaurant’s refrigeration system to malfunction – or even worse – completely stop. Our skilled team can provide your restaurant with a comprehensive check up on all of your refrigeration systems to ensure they’re in good shape and able to handle the season to come. Your refrigeration units will be working harder as temperatures rise and it’s important to make sure that they’re able to handle this increased strain. A malfunctioning or broken down refrigeration system can wreak havoc on your business and result in loss of product and even force your restaurant to close while the equipment is being restored. Preventative maintenance on your major systems is key in ensuring your business runs smoothly and our team can help with that.

3. Consider Welcome-Back specials

For a lot of your season-regulars this may be the first time they’re returning to your establishment in over a year. Some customers may have had to skip their annual summer or spring break vacations last year and many of your regulars may have greatly reduced their restaurant outings over the past year. A positive way to help prepare your restaurant for summer could be by introducing some new Welcome-Back specials which are a great way to not only bring new customers through the door but also show appreciation to your regular customers that are finally returning.

Consider Welcome-Back specials that showcase what your restaurant is great at and will entice customers to come in. For example, consider adding a signature drink to your menu that uses a unique ingredient or process, a decadent dessert or an appetizer with local flare. Unique items that customers can’t find anywhere else are just the thing to bring people in.

4. Make sure your staff is customer-ready
Since the busy-season was interrupted last year it’s important to make sure your staff feels confident to take on the influx of returning customers this summer. This year is likely to be different than any previous years so your team might need some refreshment on training, protocols and restaurant procedures before business picks up again.

Another reason this season is different is because you’ll have to make sure your staff is prepared to not only take on their regular duties, but also the added duties related to COVID cleaning and social distancing regulations. Speak with your team and gauge how they feel about the chance for increased business and encourage them to ask for training where needed. Set up a COVID cleaning schedule with your team now so that they are prepared for summer. If you were forced to reduce the size of your team during lockdown now may be the time to add more staff to make sure you’re prepared.

5. Check HVAC systems

If you live in the South then you know how critical air conditioning is during the summer months. Patrons want to walk into a restaurant and experience a cooling break from the humidity and heat of the summer months outside. The last thing you want is for your HVAC system to give out on you right as you’re preparing to open or lag all summer long. Our JAC Services HVAC team can perform system checks on your entire HVAC system to ensure it is in working order and able to keep up with the demands of summer. Don’t risk equipment breakdowns and downtimes! Call JAC Services HVAC and Restaurant Equipment of Summerville, SC today at (843) 863-0465 for an essential maintenance checkup and ongoing preventative plan.

As we all prepare for the coming summer months you may have a little more on your plate as a restaurant owner. Getting your team, business and procedures ready for the upcoming busy season will allow for your restaurant to have a successful and smooth summer.

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