How to run a restaurant in the face of uncertainty

The hospitality industry is being hit hard. With small margins, any sustained drop in covers has a big impact. Whether you’ve seen an impact on your business yet or want to prepare now for likely drops to come, here are some steps you can take based on what we’re seeing in the industry at large.

Updated April 14, 2020

Featured resources


Resources for restaurant owners and staff to navigate COVID-19
See more


Practical financial tips from restaurateurs

Read more


Restaurants and Coronavirus Relief under the CARES Act
Learn more

1. Stay informed

As COVID-19 continues to make headlines, reduced travel and government calls to practice social distance and avoid large gatherings are hitting restaurants hard.

2. Connect with guests

Guests’ behaviors are changing. You’ll want to stay in touch with guests who’ve already booked, while continuing to be discovered by those looking to dine out in cities where restaurants remain open.

  • Call or email guests to cancel reservations, and remember to pause automated email campaigns.
  • Keep guests informed about what services you’re offering and precautions you’re taking on your website and/or via email. Here’s how you can export your guest list.

3. Meet guests where they are by adjusting your services

People are understandably nervous. Make it easy for people to choose your restaurant and realign the way you operate during these uncharted times.

4. Support your staff

With closures for dine and an increase in delivery and takeout orders, you will likely have a shift in staffing needs and staff members are likely to be concerned. There are ways to take care of them.

5. Encourage increased cleanliness

The more you can do to go above and beyond to protect your guests and reassure them about your hygiene efforts, the better.

  • ServSafe is offering free online courses for restaurant staff about food handling precautions for takeout and delivery.
  • Increase sanitation by keeping hand sanitizer at the entrance.
  • Clean counters, handles, and bathrooms more frequently and thoroughly.



What your restaurant can do in the face of COVID-19
Read more


OpenTable COO on restaurant impact from COVID-19
Read more


COVID-19 checklist: Restaurant best practices
Download now


Email templates for communicating with guests about COVID-19
Download now


How restaurants are getting creative with grocery offerings
Read more


How a virtual community is helping with mental health and sobriety resources
Read more

The state of the restaurant industry

As the COVID-19 pandemic keeps people home and some cities, states, and countries limit restaurant operations, our community of nearly 60,000 restaurants faces unprecedented challenges. We’ve summarized the data from the restaurants on our platform of year-over-year seated diners and are updating it daily.

See the latest in the data center

“The world’s health and the health of our industry is at the front of our minds now. In times of economic uncertainty restaurants get hit hard. While we don’t know the complete impact at this time, one thing is for certain, we have the backs of our nearly 60,000 restaurant partners. We are in this together.”

Andrea Johnston, OpenTable COO