A reopening checklist for independent restaurants and bars.

Jun 18 2020 | Elizabeth Tilton, Founder and CEO of Oyster Sunday

As restaurants re-open, there will be key foundational tasks they’ll need to do to make sure re-opening goes smoothly. At Oyster Sunday, we’ve created a comprehensive playbook for you to do just that. We provide a checklist of all the items you need to cover from finance and accounting, to operations and HR, to marketing, communications, and technology, to compliance, insurance, and facilities.
Before we dive in, first download the playbook Reopening: A critical path for independent restaurants and bars. Your downloaded version allows you to customize and make edits. Once you have downloaded the playbook, save it to your documents or Google Drive.

Then identify the following two things:
1.    How much cash you have on hand: This will inform key decisions about operations, labor, and revenue structures.
2.    How to create a safe environment for your team, guests, and vendors.

Everything else follows.


Quick tips on navigating the checklist.

Before you start putting your task force on duty, there are some things to keep in mind:
  • Read through each of the tasks first on all the tabs. This will help you see what needs to get done.
  • Try not to go at it alone. Since there are a lot of to-do's, you'll want a trusted task force to delegate to.
  • Once you read through everything, make sure to prioritize the most important items for your business. (Top priorities should still be the first two items mentioned above.) Feel free to add a column titled 'Priority' so you can label tasks as either 'High', 'Medium', or 'Low'.
  • If you feel overwhelmed with anything, slow down and breathe. Then shoot us a note at hello@oystersunday.com so we can help. 

Now, the tour.



Financial viability is crucial and understanding your cash on hand should help inform initial reopening decisions from labor, to guest capacities, to menu offerings. Below we have outlined the key considerations you should make as you move toward reopening — everything from forecasting operational costs, resetting operating profit expectations, rebuilding your labor model and schedule, considering alternative revenue streams, and beyond.


Ensuring you have proper accounting systems set up is more crucial than ever to help predict the cash flow of your business. Here we outline everything from the importance of reviewing sales data, to tracking accounts payable and receivable, to tracking COGS, to setting up inventory systems. If you’re interested in reviewing your current accounting systems, we’re here to help.



When it comes to operations, quickly establish clear COVID-19-specific standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure your team and your guests are safe. Consider your budget projections and revenue sources as you think through your menu. This will impact how you renegotiate vendor terms, set ordering pars, and additional operational decisions such as delivery and pickup protocol.


The safety of your team, guests, and vendors is critical. This section addresses numerous safety considerations including temperature checks + reporting of symptoms, PPE, hygiene, social distancing and more, all of which should be clearly communicated and outlined in standard operating procedures (SOPs).


Human Resources

Your teams are the heartbeat of the hospitality industry. Below we help you think through HR considerations - from rehiring protocols to new COVID policies such as Paycheck Protection Loan (PPPL), Employee Retention Tax Credits, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).


Marketing and Communications

Clear, consistent communication has never been more critical. As you reopen, here’s a list of internal and external information to share — whether with the public or your team. This includes adjusted operations as well as ongoing safety measures to keep your team and your guests safe.



It’s likely the majority of your technology has been in place since you initially opened your doors. As you’re most likely in a different financial position now, it’ll be key to review the terms and conditions of your existing contracts. We recommend reviewing your contracts and vendor terms to see if there are opportunities to reduce ongoing costs.

Compliance and Insurance

Ensuring your restaurant is compliant and protected by the right insurance policies is essential to the success of your business. Presumably you’ve already connected with your insurance companies, and now’s the time to think through risk management, department of health compliance, and how to properly train your employees using COVID-19 protocol. We anticipate additional policies will be made available post-COIVD-19 to cover future public health crises.



Whether you’ve completely closed your restaurant or kept it open for pickup and delivery, review your facilities contracts — particularly since most, if not all, of these services require monthly payments.

You did it! Congratulations on re-opening your establishment successfully.
About Oyster Sunday.

Oyster Sunday was founded by Elizabeth Tilton in 2019 with a mission to reimagine a sustainable and supportive infrastructure for the food and beverage industry. They’ve already done the ground work of establishing strategic partnerships with other vendors so independent restaurants and small food and beverage companies can easily leverage corporate services like branding, marketing, operations, systems, and HR. If you have any questions about how to use the Critical Path playbook, you can drop Elizabeth a note at hello@oystersunday.com.

The contents of this site are provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent, professional accounting, financial, and legal advice before making any business decision.

Was this content helpful?

We’ll use cookies to improve and customize your experience if you continue to browse. Is it OK if we also use cookies to show you personalized ads? Learn more and manage your cookies