Back to the ‘Grind’ – Restaurant Reopening Guidelines and PPP Update

For additional resources, click COVID-19 Survival Guide for Restaurants and MRM Restaurant Survival Guide, Second Course and MRM Restaurant Survival Guide, Part ThreeWhat’s Next?: MRM Restaurant Survival Guide UpdatesCOVID-19 Resources for RestaurantsPPP Part Two and More News Restaurants Need to Know Now and Restaurant Reopening Resources.

The Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, released the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application and detailed instructions for the application. 

The form and instructions inform borrowers how to apply for forgiveness of their PPP loans, consistent with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).  SBA will also soon issue regulations and guidance to further assist borrowers as they complete their applications, and to provide lenders with guidance on their responsibilities.

The form and instructions include several measures to reduce compliance burdens and simplify the process for borrowers, including:

  • Options for borrowers to calculate payroll costs using an “alternative payroll covered period” that aligns with borrowers’ regular payroll cycles
  • Flexibility to include eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses paid or incurred during the eight-week period after receiving their PPP loan
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to perform the calculations required by the CARES Act to confirm eligibility for loan forgiveness
  • Borrower-friendly implementation of statutory exemptions from loan forgiveness reduction based on rehiring by June 30
  • Addition of a new exemption from the loan forgiveness reduction for borrowers who have made a good-faith, written offer to rehire workers that was declined

The PPP was created by the CARES Act to provide forgivable loans to eligible small businesses to keep American workers on the payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The documents released today will help small businesses seek forgiveness at the conclusion of the eight week covered period, which begins with the disbursement of their loans.

Click here to view the application and instructions.

US Foods Holding Corp. launched its COVID-19 online operator resource, the US Foods Restaurant Reopening Blueprint. The blueprint provides operators with a how-to for putting key COVID-19 guidelines into practice as they plan reopening efforts.

The Restaurant Reopening Blueprint is informed by interviews with key stakeholders such as diners, restaurant staff and US Foods consultants and chefs. Interviews were also conducted with operators and diners in China to understand what learnings might be applicable for U.S. restaurant operations.

The guide provides recommendations for approaching regulatory requirements, principles for planning an effective reopening, best practices for approaching front-of-house and back-of-house operations, and specific solutions for other foodservice formats such as cafeterias, quick-service restaurants, fast-casual restaurants, food courts, and bars and lounges.

“Preparing to reopen a restaurant in the face of a changing pandemic can be complex and challenging without the right resources to help guide your planning efforts,” said Jim Osborne, senior vice president of customer strategy and innovation at US Foods. “As part of our ongoing commitment to helping independent operators Make It, we believe the Restaurant Reopening Blueprint is an invaluable resource for helping operators make sense of the new business practices and applying them in a way that will enhance diner confidence and support the successful ramp-up of their reopening efforts.”

Highlights of the US Foods Restaurant Reopening Blueprint include:

  • Principles for an effective reopening
  • Clear principles should inform focus and scope as an operator starts their planning process. The guide provides the following key principles for an effective reopening.
  • Demonstrating the importance placed on the health and well-being of employees and customers.
  • Staying nimble given the fluid environment.
  • Adapting with a tighter, more focused menu to allow kitchens to better plan labor and prep needs and manage enhanced sanitation routines.
  • Embracing preparation and safety protocols as part of your restaurant's story.
  • Maintaining a distinct separation between front-of-house and back-of-house.
  • Creating a buffered, contactless front-of-house.
  • Seeking opportunities to create new, lasting rituals to signal safety, to claim new spaces and to innovate.
  • Creating clear and consistent communications with employees and customers to boost efficiency, morale and consumer sentiment.
  • Best practices for approaching front-of-house and back-of-house operations

The guide encourages operators to view their establishment as distinct zones to drive diner comfort and safety at various steps of the dining out journey and provides helpful solutions for approaching each zone.

Pre-arrival/Arrival – Use online tools to help diners plan their visit; provide clear separation between entry, waiting and dining areas; maintain six feet between parties; and segment dine-in and takeout traffic to minimize congestion at narrow doorways.

Entry/Exit – Change the entry path and establish six-foot distances; place entry signs where diners pause; and ensure entering and exiting diners do not cross paths at doorways.

Dining Room/Bar – Keep diners physically separated by no less than six feet; clearly indicate which tables are “open” and “closed;” close off bar and counter seating; block diner access to high staff-flow areas; and differentiate wait staff and cleaning staff by specific colors of face masks and gloves. Creating new dining-room rituals, from the removal of all communal items on the table to disposable menus and touchless payment solutions.

Restrooms – Visits to the restroom should be as contact-free as possible. Door kicks, foot handles, touchless faucets and soap dispensers, easy access trashcans, and disposable paper towels instill confidence. Operators should also consider posting a cleaning log in an easily visible spot.

Rethinking roles and responsibilities front-of-house and back-of-house

By further distinguishing roles and responsibilities between the front-of-house and back-of-house, restaurant operators can uphold reopening principles of a contactless customer space and a sealed food-preparation space. Recommendations include:

Front-of-house customer-engagement roles such as floor manager, host, server and service-facing bartender may only greet guests, educate on protocol and menu, maintain restrooms and process payment.

Front-of-house restaurant safety roles such as food runners, busser, waiter and drink-making bartender may coordinate only with back-of-house lead to transport food to the table, clear plates, box food, refill water, retrieve drinks from bartender and reset tables.

Back-of-house roles including chef, sous chef, lead line cook, line cook, prep, cooks, pastry chef, pastry cooks and dishwasher may only receive safely delivered food, perform inventory and ordering, cook food, wash dishes and clean and sanitize kitchen.

The Restaurant Reopening Blueprint and accompanying webinars are available on the company’s “Make it Now” online platform, designed to provide operators resources and solutions to help them adapt to changing industry needs. View all of the available resources or schedule a one-on-one consultation with a US Foods Restaurant Operations Consultant or Food Fanatic Chef, here.

Restaurant Playbooks developed free training resources to help operators keep their employees and customers safe at

Upserve is offering its Virtual POS and Online Ordering tools for free for 12 months to any restaurant. Upserve’s new Online Ordering program gives free Online Ordering to any restaurant that needs it.

No point of sale? No problem. Upserve is implementing online ordering for any restaurant with an iPad and an internet connection.  Restaurants can be up and running in 48 hours or less with free professional implementation included with this program.

Upserve is creating and running Free Facebook Ads for all Upserve Online Ordering customers to drive new business to their website.  Upserve will cover all ‘Card Not Present’ fees for online orders and restaurants keep 100 percent of their profits. Unlike many third-party apps, there are no hidden fees charged to the restaurants.

“Restaurants play a vital role in all of our communities,” said CEO Sheryl Hoskins. “At Upserve, we’re doing everything we can to make sure our customers are not only surviving this situation but finding unique ways to pivot their business and truly thrive. And we’re happy to welcome our free Online Ordering restaurants to the Upserve family during this crisis.”

Upserve is seeing dozens of restaurants return to pre-dining ban sales levels with just Online Ordering.  From February to April Upserve saw a 169 percent increase in the number of restaurants actively using Online Ordering with Upserve, paired with an 840 percent increase in weekly sales via online ordering.

They are also expanding the reach, usability, and machine learning (AI/ML) capabilities of our Online Ordering Platform to drive greater revenues for restaurants while enhancing the online guest experience. Upserve’s “Intelligent Menu” capabilities use AI/ML to highlight the most successful online ordering menu items to increase sales and return customers. Upserve has launched custom promo codes for online ordering customers as well as customized messaging and branding capabilities.

Upserve online ordering customers that use photos and branded images on their site see 60 percent more revenue, on average.

Keeping Restaurants and Guests Safe: Contact-Free Payments on Upserve Mobile POS.  As restaurants prepare to re-open safely, guests are demanding new standards for dining interaction and sanitation. Now guests can not only order and pay from their phone with Upserve Online Ordering, but curbside or dine-in customers can tap their card on an Upserve mobile POS device for payment with limited guest interaction.

To start using Upserve Online Ordering for free for 12 months or to learn more about contact-free payments, visit

Presto is offering a free Contactless Dining kit. The new kit enables restaurants to provide an end-to-end contactless in-house dining experience to guests. Guests can view the complete menu, place orders, and pay at the table—without the need for any human contact.

The link to learn more and to order is here:

 It is completely free to order, implement and use – there are no strings attached.

Guests can use their personal mobile devices to scan NFC tags and QR codes at restaurants in all categories—full service, quick serve, or other hospitality. In addition, guests can check in online using their smartphone, view wait time estimates in real time, and get an alert when their table is ready.

Key features of the kit include: 

  • Contactless Menu – Guests can access the menu by scanning a QR code sticker or tent card using their smartphone. They can view the full menu, add items to their order, and see prices. They also have access to their loyalty rewards and prior customizations. Optionally, for guests not interested in using their own device, the menu can be displayed on a digital tablet dropped at the table. The tablet is safer, easier to clean, and more environment-friendly compared to a laminated or paper menu.

  • Contactless Ordering – The Presto system allows items to be modified and added to the order at any time. Optionally, orders can be directly pushed into the POS system through seamless data integration.

  • Contactless Payment – The guest can pay the check using their own phone by scanning a QR Code or NFC tag. Payment is enabled using secure technologies such as mobile wallet, offering convenience and additional peace of mind to guests.

The team at Coast compiled all the state's official restaurant reopening guidelines for in-person dining and wanted to send it over as an additional resource to help restaurants reopen. To learn more, click here.

The CDC posted this list of reopening guidelines. Click here for more. 

GP PRO launched Hygiene Ready, an online resource designed to help restaurants, retailers, arenas, commercial and industrial facilities, and other businesses safely re-open amidst COVID-19 and restore employee and consumer confidence shaken by the virus. 

“As businesses are processing how best to safely re-open in the wake of COVID-19, it is imperative for GP PRO to join the conversation about hygiene readiness. This is a key tenet of the value we provide businesses,” said Mike Adams, president of GP PRO. “Through straightforward guidance, tools and resources, we hope to do our part to make the transition into the new normal an easier one.” 

According to Adams, GP PRO developed the Hygiene Ready toolkit in response to dozens of customer conversations and following in-depth analyses of its consumer and market surveys, as well as what GP PRO saw as confusing and often conflicting virus containment measures. 

At the heart of the toolkit is critical guidance that GP PRO synthesized from resources published by Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), World Health Organization (WHO), and other national resource guidelines. This guidance is presented as industry-specific, actionable hygiene checklists that address basic infection prevention measures, safe workplace practices, and engineered workplace controls.  

Additional toolkit elements include a reference library with links to leading health organizations and timely news stories; proper hygiene training materials for employers and employees; hygiene best-practice videos; and customizable marketing signage, including floor graphics, posters, counter cards, and more. More tools will be added to the toolkit in the coming weeks. 

The Hygiene Ready toolkit can be viewed and downloaded at

Amazon Studios is providing $1 million for the catering team at the award-winning Jon & Vinny’s restaurant group to prepare meals for local charities feeding those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic, including No Kid Hungry, Off Their Plate, the Los Angeles Mission and the Motion Picture & Television Fund. As part of the initiative, Jon & Vinny’s will team with other L.A. restaurants including the Culver City restaurant Hatchet Hall, whose kitchen staffs will also work to prepare and deliver food to be distributed.

“This unprecedented crisis has impacted all of us in immeasurable ways, and it’s more important than ever that we all do our part to give back at every level — and particularly to our own community,” said Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios. “At Amazon Studios and Prime Video, we’re truly honored to be able to show our support to the community that has always supported us, and to team up with Jon and Vinny’s to provide food to those who so desperately need it along with a lifeline to local businesses.”

"We're super excited to partner with Amazon Studios and Prime Video in their initiative to help small local businesses,” said Jon Shook, Co-Owner of Jon & Vinny’s. “Now with this $1 million contribution, they are continuing to help us during this time as well as give us the opportunity to lend a hand to other independent businesses and restaurants in Los Angeles."

“The coronavirus pandemic has put a huge financial burden on California families, with lost jobs and wages leaving many struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table,” said No Kid Hungry California Director Kathy Saile. “We’re proud to team up with Amazon Studios and Jon & Vinny’s to help school nutrition teams ease the burden felt by families in the Los Angeles region by providing meals for kids while schools are closed.”

Some of the local farms and business supported by this new initiative include:

  • The Garden of…
  • Fairhills Apple Farm
  • Garcias Family Farm
  • Schaner Family Farms
  • Pudwell Berry Farm
  • Tamai Family Farm
  • Wong Farms
  • Coleman Family Farms
  • Thao Farms
  • Peads and Barnett
  • Danny Duran, DuraClean
  • Premier Meats
  • Guidi Marcello
  • Gjusta Bakery
  • Schwartz Bakery
  • Cadoro Bakery

As part of Amazon Studios’ efforts to give back to the community in this time of crisis, the studio has converted its plans for “For Your Consideration” billboards promoting its Emmy contenders to “For Your Community,” promoting COVID-related non-profit organizations. The billboards — which drive awareness for World Health Organization, Feeding America, Save the Children, the American Red Cross, and the World Food Programme — are now live in LA.

"Los Angeles is a company town, and our local businesses are a key part of that. It’s just as important to support our community as it is to support our contenders,” said Debra Birnbaum, Head of Awards, Amazon Studios. “Tapping our resources to lend them support while also raising awareness for worthy causes counts as more than a win for us — and, more importantly, them."

Amazon Studios previously worked with Jon & Vinny’s on “Dinner and a Movie,” replacing what would have been traditional film premieres with deliveries that included dinner for two, a bottle of wine and other small gifts from local businesses for tastemakers and press, while providing more than 25,000 meals to No Kid Hungry and the Los Angeles Mission.

#SaveNYCEats ( launched its digital hub to empower the community to help New York City’s restaurants and bars weather the COVID-19 crisis. The platform allows participating businesses to feature take-home chef kits, future unique dining experiences, gift cards, merchandise and other special offers.

After the successful launch of #SavePhillyEats, Philly founders Anthony Bucci and David Bookspan were looking to broaden their impact to New York, the largest restaurant hub in the U.S. David reached out to Rob Edell, whose restaurant tech startup, Servy, had received investment from David’s Dreamit Ventures back in 2015 before it was acquired by Resy in 2017. Edell jumped on board day 1 and partnered with long-time friends Stephanie Goldstein and Josh Klein to launch #SaveNYCEats.

Goldstein explains, “Restaurants, and the people behind them, are a quintessential part of the New York experience. Restaurants and bars are where we laugh with our friends, celebrate with our families, or just enjoy a brief pause from our everyday lives. Save NYC Eats is our way of giving back to the restaurants and employees who have tirelessly given so much to our community. I am incredibly excited for the day when we can once again break bread together in our favorite restaurants with friends.”

How does it work? Restaurants and bars opt in to #SaveNYCEats with special experiences, offers and incentives. Examples include the opportunity to buy an 8 guest pasta-making class at Roberta’s, a virtual cooking class with Jonah Miller from Huertas, a date night sushi and izakaya dinner with Sake 2 from Juku, or discounted gift cards from City Cakes and The Musket Room. Visitors to the website view aggregated offers and each of the offers links directly through to the chosen restaurant’s website for fulfillment and payment.

The restaurant keeps 100 percent of the revenue; there is no affiliate fee or any payment of any kind to #SaveNYCEats. Participating chefs and restaurants include Marc Forgione, Huertas, Sauce, The Musket Room, Juku, 5 Napkin Burger, Scarpetta, Kissaki, Blue Stripes, Caffe Panna, The Village Den, City Cakes, La Newyorkina, Melt Shop, Joe Coffee, Casa Publica, Ed’s Lobster Bar, Roberta’s, Golden Diner, Il Laboratorio del Gelato, Lighthouse Brooklyn, Randolph Beer, and more.

Edell explains, “Most people associate restaurants with wealth, but the vast majority of restaurants—including fine dining—operate on razor thin margins and do not have more than a few weeks of runway in the bank. We launched Save NYC Eats to help small and medium business owners survive during these unprecedented times. 100 percent of proceeds go to the restaurants, all of the Save NYC Eats team are volunteers.”

Daniel Ortiz de Montellano, of New York’s La Newyorkina and Casa Publica said, “La Newyorkina is a family business whose mission has always been ‘sharing the sweetness of Mexico.’ Due to the current pandemic we entered survival mode, and thanks to partners like #SaveNYCEats we can reach a bigger audience and get commission-free sales to support our team.” He added, “recent events have made us pivot and add a savory component with our “Comidas Caseras El Newyorkino” (Mexican homey meals) preordered and delivered to your doorstep. The way we see it, is that it’s only right that in these crazy times and our 10th anniversary, it’s time to reinvent oneself.” 

Hemsworth Communications launched a ‘Public Relations Stimulus Program’ designed to provide financial relief to businesses within the firm’s three core sectors – Travel & Tourism, Hospitality (Food/Wine/Spirits) and Franchising.  As part of the effort, Hemsworth is offering three tiers of support to those impacted by COVID-19, making access to quality agency resources more affordable during difficult times. 

“We are an independent, family-owned firm so we are nimble, with the ability to pivot our business model in thoughtful ways that benefit both our team members and our clients,” said Samantha Jacobs, founder and president of Hemsworth Communications.

“As the reality of the coronavirus pandemic began to set in, we knew it was time to get creative in terms of how we support our clients, many of whom were bracing for an unprecedented impact,” Jacobs continued.  “While working with our existing partners to set priorities and outline the best path forward, we simultaneously began to develop a new structure that would innovate the way many have traditionally thought about the client-agency relationship.  This program was created to provide the affordability and flexibility we know is needed right now by so many.”

Hemsworth’s ‘Public Relations Stimulus Program’ offers three levels of support, including:

  • pro bono help for those who meet certain criteria (with an emphasis on government-affiliated destination marketing organizations, tourist boards and CVBs);
  •  up to 50 percent reduced monthly retainers through 2021; and
  • a new “Flex Contract” that grants deferred payment options to businesses who qualify, along with additional client-friendly terms.

Plans are tailored to both the short and long-term need, taking a phased approach that considers sensitivities within the current landscape.  The agency’s capabilities include internal and external messaging development, website relaunch content and content marketing strategy, sentiment reporting (including COVID-19-specific daily news alerts and competitive media audits within a specific region or segment), vertical market thought leadership campaigns, press release development and distribution, ongoing media relations programming (reactive and proactive), event planning/programming and more. Influencer marketing, social media content development and social media engagement are also available under the stimulus program.

Adobe Spark has released new, free social media templates for restaurants to utilize as they begin to think through their reopening plans and how to navigate announcing social distancing guidelines, new hours and general updates to their customers.

In addition to these new templates, Spark has created a resource page to help businesses navigate this time, and  has a 60-Day free trial offer running until June 15, 2020 where customers can experience a paid individual plan, along with other resources on the website.