restaurants reopening vancouver

Restaurants in Canada could look to Vancouver for ideas on how to safely reopen

Say goodbye to buffets, salt and pepper shakers, candles and even menus as the pandemic and subsequent health and safety measures reshape the restaurant experience in Vancouver.

The province issued a series of protocals for restaurants, bars, cafes and pubs looking to reopen. These protocols will help them cut down on any unnecessary contact and touching in nearly all aspects of the dining experience.

Restaurants are expected to ensure physical distancing is practiced by reducing the number of employees working at the same time.

Suggestions for policies that restaurants can implement are broken down into sections like general considerations, table service and kitchen and delivery.

Many of the general considerations revolve around staff management, like staggering breaks, encouraging remote work wherever possible and maintaining a two metre distance from other workers and guests.

Table service is where things get more interesting. The suggestions include:

  • Have guests pour their own water by providing water in a bottle or jug at the table. Or pre-pour water glasses at the bar. 
  • Remove buffets and other self-service amenities.
  • Have servers leave food and drinks at the front of the table and let guests pass them after the server has stepped away.
  • Remove one chair per table and use that space as a designated place for the server to come to the table, similar to the open side on a booth. This ensures that workers don't have to squeeze in between customers.
  • Remove salt and pepper shakers, sauce dispensers, candles, and other table top items. Provide if requested and replace with thoroughly cleaned and sanitized ones. Consider single-use options.
  • Avoid touching coffee cups when refilling. 
  • If customers ask to take unfinished food with them, provide packaging and let the customer put the food into the container. 
  • Use digital menus boards, large chalkboards, or online pre-ordering alternatives instead of traditional menus. If this is not possible, consider single-use disposable menus.
  • Try to limit the use of cash and limit the handling of credit cards and loyalty cards whenever possible, by allowing customers to scan or tap their cards and handle the card readers themselves. Encourage tap payment over pin pad use.
  • Staff a person to direct or install floor decals to facilitate the flow of people during busy times.
  • Consider turning bars into service or pass through counters. In this scenario, the kitchen teams could deliver dishes to the bar area and the servers pick up from there. This reduces touches and reduces traffic into the kitchen.

Alberta has already issued protocols for when restaurants reopen for dine-in that also include scrapping buffet-style eating and limiting spaces to a 50-person capacity.

In New Brunswick, restaurants, pubs and taprooms have already begun to reopen

Toronto is eyeing plans to allow patios to expand to allow for more physical distancing.

Restaurants in the United States have taken things even further with some performing temperature checks on guests and questioning them about symptoms.

Lead photo by

Au Comptoir


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