Every summer Thomas Keller closes Per Se for a few weeks; most of his customer base are in the Hamptons or lounging on yachts so it makes perfect sense to shut things down and give the staff some time off, while also giving the business a break on operating costs. What works for Keller can work for anyone, you don’t have to be running a Michelin-starred restaurant to follow his lead.
2023 has been a tough year for restaurants, coming in hot on the heels after a number of incredibly brutal years already. As a solution to cut costs, temporarily closing up shop, is kind of a no-brainer.
It will require advance planning, to ensure that you benefit from the period of closure, and, of course limiting the damage to your business and existing customer base. Here are some things to consider:
Plan your closing date.
Consider inventory, scheduling, long weekends, festivals and events – all of this needs to be planned for. No one wants to close with food going to waste, or a big festival coming up with opportunities to bring in big crowds. Really think it through as you make arrangements for your closing date. Running a restaurant is already more than a full-time job, you deserve a break, so plan ahead to avoid last-minute worry, panic and surprises.
Speak to your landlord.
If you’re leasing your restaurant, you’ll want to let your landlord know about your plans and the reasons why. This goes back to your relationship with your landlord, the lease you’ve signed and knowing your rights as a tenant. There may just be a chance they are receptive and will offer to reduce your monthly rent. On the other hand, they could refuse point blank. It’s a good idea to prepare yourself for this conversation and have some suggestions at hand to help you achieve the best resolution. Whatever you do, go into the discussion with an open mind and be prepared to negotiate and compromise. Also, bear in mind that it’s always best to maintain the best possible relationship you can with your landlord.
Time to communicate.
Good communication will be key. If you already have an established social media presence then you have a direct line to your people. A sign on the door is great, but a well crafted message on socials is essential. You will need to provide plenty of advance warning about the day you close and when you are planning to reopen. A reason why you are closing will also be expected. Keep it bright and sunny. We love the model used by Lev Levine at Lox & Schmear; chatty, conversational and explicit in its direction. Your customers will miss you and that’s a good thing. You want to make them hungry for your return.
Talk with your staff and ensure that this break will work for them. Losing fully trained employees is not going to benefit your business. Give employees all the info they might need for accessing EI while you’re closed and let them know that this break is only intended to help the business in the future. If done right it is meant to be really beneficial – both for everyone’s mental health and for your bottom line.
Look at your food and beverage inventory.
Of course, you’ll need to adjust your ordering and let some things run out as you ramp up to closure. Make sure that any items remaining in your food inventory will last for the closure period.
Plan bill payments and file paperwork
Even though you’re closing temporarily, you’re still an operating business. That means you’ll need to make sure that any recurring bill payments need to be paid, and any necessary paperwork filed. You’ll also need to let your providers (utilities, suppliers, maintenance, tech suppliers, any subscriptions you have etc.) know that you are closing for a while but will be reopening. Keeping on top of things now, and whilst you’re closed, will mean less stress down the line when you plan to reopen.
Clean and tidy your premises.
Cleaning up and preparing the inside of your premises for closure will again make it much easier for you when you reopen your doors. It’s a good opportunity to also give the place a deep clean, including your fridges, freezers, pantries and behind the bar.
Close-up and final suggestions
You’re all ready to close your doors. All the preparation you’ve done for this moment will help provide peace of mind while you’re away. The best part about taking a break, other than the much needed break itself, will be the re-opening. You can use it as an opportunity to promote your business. Plan special menu items or promotions for the date of your return. Until then, enjoy some time off!
CHI is dedicated to keeping up with local and national trends in the Restaurant Industry to help serve our customers better and keep them one step ahead. If you are interested in opening, purchasing, or selling a restaurant CHI Real Estate can help. Get in touch with our team today.