Restaurant Task Force is an organization that helps restaurant owners set up a plan to increase profitability and improve service. A restaurant owner can get ideas from this group on how to operate better, whether it is with better service or changing menu, and also the impact of demographics on customers. It’s a meeting place for restaurant owners to share their issues and seek tips from each other. The group also makes suggestions and gives information to restaurant owners on how they can compete in the current market. There are certain topics they generally cover:

Recently, I went to a local restaurant that serves outdoor dining. This restaurant was built around an outdoor seating area; it had wood bar stools along with booths and a beautiful view. But the booths were empty, there were no outdoor seating, and there were only about six customers inside at any given time. This restaurant task force discussed several options to increase traffic to the booths and tables, one of which was bringing in a panda.

At another restaurant that I was dining in, the owner was talking with a restaurant task force that was evaluating the profitability as well as service. They suggested reopening a few of the bars and adding more outdoor seating. The owner told them it would cost too much and they could not afford it. He told them it would be great if they just brought back two of the bars and added a picnic table.

The owner was complying with state law by complying with the federal Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) by continuing to operate the restaurants as is. According to the law, a restaurant owner is required to give notice within sixty days of a change in ownership. Violating Covid-19 regulations (section 940.5(b) of the code) is a violation of the law. As previously stated, this happened in August of last year, but the restaurant task force still has not made a determination on whether or not to charge the owner for violating Covid-19 regulations.

In the meantime, the new businesses are suffering because they have not been able to recover the capital that has been invested in their operation. Some of the restaurants are still in need of renovations and others are only temporarily idle. This leaves the remaining restaurants at the mercy of the food and beverage business and its consultants to determine how to make up for the poor profits and slow sales. The restaurant task force may come in to help, but no one seems to know where to start in this mess.

What is needed is some social distancing, if not for the patrons, then for the chefs, staff, managers and other restaurant workers who have been hurt by the economic recession. If there is no social distancing, then it is likely that the revenues will not cover the expenses of the reopening and the owners will go back to the drawing board, wondering what went wrong. Perhaps a new name or a different concept would have been a better solution than reopening a restaurant with the same name and the same old menu. No matter the cause, a new focus and a fresh start may be the perfect way to recover from such a devastating experience and regain the confidence of your clientele and the affection of your fellow consumers.