How NYC Restaurants Can Thrive Through the Winter

How NYC Restaurants Can Thrive Through the Winter
D. J. Costantino

By D. J. Costantino

"Winter is coming" ...said every restaurateur in existence. 2020 was a tough year, and you made a ton of sacrifices and difficult decisions already. But 2021 is the year to evolve your restaurant for whatever comes next. Even with positive movements towards a Coronavirus vaccine, the pandemic is still very much a part of our lives. As is the cold weather, giving way to new restrictions and challenges that make it harder for restaurants to do business.

We at 7shifts want to help you thrive through the winter and well into the new year.

This guide includes ideas and checklists for everything from keeping your staff healthy to optimizing your ordering platforms. We’ve also included resources from the City of New York for information and assistance, as well as some articles from 7shifts that we believe will be useful. We’ve also included some links to our partners who are offering special discounts and trials to evolve your restaurant with the best tech in the industry. We like to think of it as a roadmap to success in 2021 and beyond.

Get and Stay Healthy 🩺

When it comes to making it through the winter, the health of your staff and guests is item number one. COVID-19 cases are rising, and even though there has been promising vaccine news, we’re at least a few months away from any meaningful rollout. For now, we have to do everything we can to get our staff tested and protected. Keeping your staff and your guests safe and healthy is the most essential thing we can do.

  • Set Up COVID-19 screenings for your staff. National Restaurant Association has partnered with LetsGetChecked to offer members exclusive pricing on-at-home tests
  • Implement an Employee Health Tracking System to minimize infections and spread. 7shifts offers Employee Health Check as a feature to pre-screen and track employee health
  • Stock Up on PPE like KN95 Masks, gloves, face shields, and hand sanitizer
  • Create Cleaning and Sanitizing Checklists for Each Role on Your Team to keep your restaurant clean and germ-free for guests and team members.
  • Order Cleaning Supplies such as disinfectant, paper products, mop heads, and floor cleaner
restaurant staff happy in masks
The staff at Ruby's Cafe in New York City, a 7shifts' customer

Optimize Your Labor 📊

Once your health protocols are in place, turn your attention to making the most out of the team that you have. The traditional division of labor between the front of the house and back of the house is no more, and restaurant employees have taken up responsibilities this year that they never imagined. Make sure this new reality is reflected in your scheduling.

  • Alter and Create New Roles like extra cleaning, packing takeout orders, and facilitating delivery/pickup
  • Hire new delivery drivers if you need them, or see if existing staff are up to the task
  • Check-In with seasonal employees such as returning college students. They may be looking for work and can be ready to pick up shifts if someone gets sick.
  • Accept and Approve time-off requests for sick employees, and make sure you give ample time off for recovery.

Winterize Your Patio Seating ⛄️

With indoor dining closed as per Governor Cuomo until further notice, outdoor dining has become a staple of dining out in New York City. Our traffic-heavy streets are now home to ad-hoc patio seating. But the winter brings a new challenge (and guidelines) for making sure guests are safe and warm while dining outside. Make sure you review the updated city guidelines and winterize your outdoor dining areas, and make sure all of your permits and paperwork are in order to avoid costly fees and closings.

  • Submit an Attestation for Propane Heaters. This is required by the FDNY before you can set up a gas-powered patio heater.
  • Apply for a T-93 Certificate of Fitness, also required by the FDNY
  • Review NYC guidelines for tents, umbrellas, and other outdoor enclosures
  • Secure electric or propane heaters and extra fuel to prevent any prime-time outages.
  • Install protective equipment such as glass screens or barriers for outdoor tables.
  • Review Updated NYC Guidelines for street structures
heated patio seating Ruby's new york city
The heated outdoor setup for diners at Ruby's Cafe

Set Up Third-Party Delivery and Pickup to Win 🛍

Delivery has skyrocketed thanks to stay-at-home orders. With the holidays over and the cold weather here for a while, we’ll be indoors and ordering a lot of delivery. It’s important that you have your delivery channels optimized to move, so you can keep orders coming and going efficiently to maximize profit during the cold winter months.

  • Streamline your menu for profitability by offering your most popular items and food that travels well during winter like braises, curries, and kinds of pasta.
  • Add drinks, if you don’t already have them. Wine, beer, and bottled cocktails are high-margin check-drivers.
  • Order takeout supplies like containers, paper, and plastic bags, plastic flatware, napkins
  • Create a designated area for vendor pickups and deliveries to minimize unnecessary contact.

Update Your Online Presence 📲

More people ordering online and spending time on their phones while indoors means your online presence is essential. This is doubly important with the reduced foot traffic that comes with the colder months. Communication with your guests is crucial to keep you top of mind the next time they want to order in or go out for a meal.

Resources 📑

NYC Resources

PPE + Reopening Supplies Marketplace
COVID-19 At-Home Lab Tests (National Restaurant Association members have exclusive, negotiated pricing on COVID-19 tests from LetsGetChecked)
Propane-Fueled Space Heaters in Outdoor Dining Areas Information
Fire Department City of New York
NYC Open Restaurants Brochure
NYC Open Restaurant FAQ

Financial Relief

U.S. Heroes ACT (PPP Loans)
Relief for All Restaurants (ROAR)
Prospect Heights (Brooklyn) Aid
Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE) Relief
Facebook Small Business Grants

7shifts Resources

Growing Delivery & Takeout Channels at Your Restaurant
Publish Your Website with These Best Restaurant Website Builders
The Best Online Ordering Platforms to Keep Your Restaurant Running
7shifts Employee Health Check
7shifts Task Management

Reinventing the way restaurant teams work

Simple to set up, easy to use. Give your restaurant the team management tools they need to be successful. Start your free trial today.

Start free trial

No credit card required
D. J. Costantino
D. J. Costantino

Hi! I'm D.J., 7shifts' resident Content Writer. I come from a family of chefs and have a background in food journalism. I'm always looking for ways to help make the restaurant industry better!