November 17, 2020

Restaurant Owners: How to Succeed During the Next Set of COVID-19 Restrictions

Governor Murphy has once again limited restaurant hours and bar service, while the city officials in Philadelphia have eliminated indoor dining and limited outdoor seating. Be proactive to function within these restrictions during the next wave of COVID-19 restrictions.

What you need to know.

The New Jersey set of mandates includes prohibiting seating at bars at all times. An attempted offset to this restriction, restaurants may place tables closer than six feet apart if separated by Plexiglass barrier to accommodate additional patrons. Restaurants can continue to construct heated tents – so called igloos/bubbles – around outdoor tables if limited to one group of diners and thoroughly cleaned between each seating. Another mandate requires restaurants to close between the hours of 10pm – 5am, which may affect your current business operations.

In Philadelphia all indoor dining will be eliminated and outdoor seating will be limited to four people who reside in the same household. These restrictions are intended to last for the next six weeks, but could extend longer.

Why you need to know this.

The Governor has made it the duty of every person and entity doing business in New Jersey, every member of the governing body and officials, employees, or agents of every political subdivision, and every member of all other governmental bodies, agencies, and authorities in any nature whatsoever, to cooperate fully with the new restrictions.
While failing to conform to the new guidelines puts customers and employees at risk of exposure and continued spread of the virus. Failing to conform to the new mandates can result in restrictions on permits, forced closures, and fines/penalties for business owners or even individuals.

What you need to do now.

It is important for restaurant operators to step back and take a hard look at their finances and where they want to be in 5, 10 or 15 years. While you may not be able to make the profit your business typically generates during this time, you can control your investments. Making an investment in your team will pay off when the restrictions are lifted and restaurants are able to reopen in a normal environment.

Evaluate your existing financial and contractual relationships, including your leases and loans.

  • Do you need out of your current lease because a new location will provide the outdoor or updated space you need to succeed? Are there other benefits, including reserved parking spaces you should be discussing? Has your current landlord helped you navigate the challenges of the pandemic or have they hindered your ability to adapt to the new regulations?
  • What is your relationship with your lenders? Did they help you get the loans you needed or did they put other clients before you? Have you considered moving your financial accounts to a different financial institution to get a better interest rate, loan terms, or assistance with any new SBA or PPP loans that may become available?

Evaluating your business relationships and making smart business decisions on investments, lenders and leases could mean the difference between having to close or continuing to operate the restaurant that you have worked so hard to establish.

We are here to guide you through the next partial/complete shutdown. The time to act is now, before it is too late.

If you have questions about this about this article, please contact Angela L. Mastrangelo at 856.355.2989 or by email at mastrangelo@hylandlevin.com.

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