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Restaurant Playbook

This playbook is provided for cafés and restaurants in Greater Des Moines (DSM).

Sample: Café Risk Profile

Restaurant Risk Profile Frequency

Restaurant Risk Profile Duration

Restaurant Risk Profile Variety

The sample risk profile has been determined for cafés in DSM. The profile shows frequency, or how many people in a day; duration, or length of typical interaction; and variety, or the number of different people.*

Current Impact 

Current Impact

Future Trends 

Future Trends

Recommended Practices 

Recommended Practices

Community Partnership 

Community Partnerships

Additional Resources 

Additional Resources

Current Impact

Unemployed Workers

8M workers unemployed

Sales Lost in April

$80B in sales lost in April

Permanently Closed Restaurants

10% permanently closed

The restaurant industry is among those that have suffered the most significant sales and job losses since the COVID-19 outbreak began. So far, the National Restaurant Association reports more than 8 million restaurant employees across the nation have been laid off or furloughed, and the industry lost $80 billion in sales by the end of April. According to the Iowa Restaurant Association, more than 87% of bar and restaurant owners have laid-off employees, and once those businesses can re-open, only 45% will likely be able to hire back all their employees. As of May 1, experts estimate 10% of the state's restaurants and bars are already closed permanently from the financial devastation of the pandemic.

Future Trends

Food Safety

Food Safety & Cleanliness

Awareness of health, sanitation and food safety will remain highly important on both sides of the counter, both for the employees and the consumer.

Food Delivery

Off-Premise Services

Delivery and curbside pick-up offer convenience and limited consumer-staff interaction. Expect these services to remain a strong component of the business in this new normal.

Contactless Payment

Contactless Transactions

Awareness and concern over contagion will be a major driver for contactless payment to be fully implemented including smart cards, tap-and-pay and mobile wallets.

Recommended Practices

Restaurants may reopen for dine-in services in all of Iowa's 99 counties (as of May 15). Mandatory state requirements and guidelines for reopening are provided below.

Mandatory Restaurant Requirements

Mandatory requirements listed in the Iowa Governor's Proclamation of Disaster Emergency include:

  • Social distancing: Ensure at least six feet of physical distance between each group or individual dining or drinking alone. Seating booths closer than six feet, if the booths are separated by a barrier sufficient height to fully separate seated customers, may satisfy this requirement. All patrons must have a seat at a table or bar, and an establishment must limit patrons from congregating together closer than six feet.
  • Social distance, hygiene and public health measures: Implement reasonable measures to ensure social distancing of employees and customers, increased hygiene practices and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19

Health & Sanitation

  • Screen all employees each shift before entering the facility for symptoms (i.e., fever of 100.4°F or higher, cough, shortness of breath, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, diarrhea or vomiting). Immediately exclude anyone with symptoms from entering.
  • Create and implement an enhanced cleaning/sanitizing schedule for all food contact surfaces, and cleaning/disinfecting of non-food contact surfaces.
  • Disinfect commonly-touched surfaces throughout entire facility (both front and back-of-house) such as door handles, credit card machines, bathrooms, etc., at least once every hour.
  • Implement procedures to increase how often you clean and sanitize surfaces in the back-of-house. Avoid all food contact surfaces when using disinfectants.
  • Require employees with direct customer contact to wear cloth or other masks laundered or replaced daily.
  • Frequently monitor employee handwashing and ensure no bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods.
  • Enhance employee safety training and use of masks, emphasizing employee health, handwashing and personal hygiene practices.
  • Check restrooms regularly and clean and sanitize them based on frequency of use.
  • Have hand sanitizer and sanitizing products readily available for employees and customers.
  • Make available individual disinfectant wipes in restrooms.
  • Consider discouraging the use of hand dryers in restrooms.

Restaurant Safety

Process & Space Modification

  • Eliminate table presets including table tents, menus, salt and pepper shakers, napkin dispensers and condiments.
  • Avoid sharing items such as menus, condiments and food orders. Use disposable or digital menus; toss disposable menus after each use. Opt for single-use condiments. Where this is not possible, shared items such as condiments bottles, shakers, etc., should be supplied as needed to customers and cleaned and disinfected after each use.
  • Use disposable foodservice items (utensils, dishes, napkins, tablecloths). If disposable items are not feasible, ensure that all non-disposable foodservice items are handled with gloves and wash according to FDA Food Code requirements. Employees should wash their hands after removing their gloves or after directly handling used food service items.
  • Disinfect tables and chairs after each customer use.
  • Eliminate refilling customer beverages from common containers (i.e., pitchers).
  • Avoid use of food and beverage utensils and containers brought in by customers.
  • Avoid offering any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, salad bars and drink stations.
  • Use no-touch trash cans. Use gloves when handling and disposing of trash, dispose of gloves immediately after and wash hands.
  • Limit sharing of food, tools, equipment or supplies by staff members.
  • Where possible, workstations should be staggered to avoid employees standing directly opposite one another or next to each other, and maintain six feet of social distance.
  • Install physical barriers, such as sneeze guards and partitions at cash registers, bars, host standards and other areas where maintaining physical distance of six feet is difficult.
  • Limit the number of employees allowed simultaneously in break rooms.
  • To the extent possible, on-premises dining should be by reservation only and customers should be screened upon arrival as to whether anyone in the party is positive, has any symptoms, is under quarantine or has been exposed to COVID-19.
  • Consider options for dine-in customers to order ahead of time to limit the amount of time spent in the establishment.
  • Ask customers to wait in their cars or away from the establishment while waiting to pick up food or when waiting to be seated.
  • Use technology solutions where possible to reduce person-to-person interaction: mobile ordering and menu tablets; text technology for seating; contactless payment options. Avoid using pagers, buzzers or other shared objects.
  • Ask customers and employees to exchange cash or cards by placing them on a receipt tray or on the counter to avoid hand-to-hand contact.
  • Designate with signage, tape or by other means appropriate social distancing spacing for employees and customers. Facilitate and designate social distancing for those waiting to enter your establishment, in the kitchen and at the bar.
  • If possible, provide distinct walking lanes to minimize close contact as customers are being seated to conform to social distancing practices. For example, in a table/booth layout, central tables can be removed and markings can be installed designating the path for seating.
  • Ensure that ventilation systems operate properly and increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible, for example by opening windows and doors and prioritizing outdoor seating. Do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety or health risk to customers or employees (e.g., risk of falling or triggering asthma symptoms).
  • Require or recommend that customers leave their dogs at home in order to limit co-mingling with other people or other animals outside the household. If dogs are permitted in outdoor dining areas, remind guests to keep their dogs on a leash and maintain social distance from other people and animals. Persons with disabilities have the right to be accompanied by their service animals in restaurants.
  • Assign an employee each shift to monitor social distancing, sanitation and hygiene protocols.

Restaurant Workspaces


  • Post signage at the entrance that states that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 is to be permitted in the restaurant.
  • Post signage in highly visible locations that promote everyday protective measures and describe how to stop the spread of germs such as by properly washing hands and properly wearing a cloth face covering.
  • Inform customers of food pickup and dining protocols on the business' website and on posted signs.
  • Notify customers by signage to report concerns of social distancing infractions to the restaurant manager.

Restaurant Communication

Community Partnerships

Local DSM Restaurants

Local Restaurants

Seek out and take any opportunity you can find to partner with a local restaurant: share kitchen space, resources, staff, supplies, etc. There are no restaurant competitors right now, only partners in weathering the storm.

Local Grocers


Connect with local grocers to see if there is an opportunity to sell restaurant menu items within grocery stores. Proceeds from ready-made meals will go directly back to the restaurant.

Fongs Logo

Feeding the Community

Offer customers the option to donate towards meals for the community. Fong's Pizza has set up a fundraiser to spread kindness through Pizza Ninja Visits to front line workers, retirement communities and other vulnerable populations.

Baratta's Logo

Baratta's Restaurant served 300 family meals, each capable of feeding four to six people, to families on Des Moines' south side. The 48-year-old restaurant teamed up with the Elder Corporation, an excavation company in Pleasant Hill, to donate the meals.

Blu Toro Logo

In an effort to combat hunger in the community during this difficult time, Dark Side of the Spoon Hospitality Group is working with the Food Bank of Iowa to donate a meal for a family of four for every to-go order sold at one of their restaurants. Blu Toro Cantina + Grill, Wellman's Pub & Rooftop, Wellman's Pub Ingersoll, 1908 Draught House (Waukee, West Des Moines, Johnston, Downtown and Norwalk) are participating.

Restaurant Delivery and Curbside

Delivery Services

As restaurants pivot to delivery, curbside pick-up or take-out only operations, third-party marketplaces like DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats, have adjusted delivery fee and commission models for independent restaurants.

Additional Resources

Recommended Playbooks

The business function playbooks include takeaways that are specific to professional functions that could be present in any business, regardless of industry.

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Human Resources
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Information Technology
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Sales and Marketing
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*We note that these assessments are qualitative and based on expert-led judgment (Johns Hopkins, 2020). Currently, there are not enough detailed data available to enable quantitative risk stratification. Businesses will need to make decisions about re-initiating business activities before there are validated data to know the precise levels of risk.

Legal Disclaimer

The Greater Des Moines Partnership's DSM Forward playbook is not intended to constitute legal advice or provide specific direction. The preparation of a business continuity or preparations plan should be undertaken with the advice and direction of appropriate specialists and personnel, in consideration of the unique circumstances impacting each business. Third-party websites or material linked to or referenced in DSM Forward are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a recommendation of The Partnership of that material or its authors.

Last updated: 5/8/2020