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Restaurants across the country have had to shut their doors due to stay-at-home mandates.

Temporarily Closing Your Restaurant Due to COVID-19? Here’s a Checklist

Even if the reason for temporarily closing is new, the process for managing a temporary closure is not.

As restrictions and guidelines change on an almost minute-by-minute cadence, restaurants are forced to adapt to ensure the health and safety of our employees and communities. As a result, many have made the decision to scale back operations and shut down a portion of their kitchen as they shift exclusively to delivery and takeout models, or temporarily close their doors.

Even if the reason for temporarily closing is new, the process for managing a temporary closure is not. We compiled this guide to help restaurants navigate this unchartered territory. While none of us knows exactly what the future holds—we are certain that the restaurants we love to support will emerge on the other side of this crisis. 

Taking these steps now will help you get your kitchen back up and running quickly when you're ready to reopen. 

Quick checklist

  • 1. Remove grease from frying units
  • 2. Shut off water heaters
  • 3. Shut off gas hookups to equipment
  • 4. Check for gas leaks 
  • 5. Idle HVAC in the 50's
  • 6. Remove grease from frying units and thoroughly clean
  • 7. Move remaining food to walk-in coolers
  • 8. Shut down small refrigeration units and freezers and sanitize interiors
  • 9. Flush your beer taps
  • 10. Cover and seal liquor bottles
  • 11. Turn off dimmer switches
  • 12. Consider turning off your water (case-by-case scenario)

Full instructions

Remove Grease from Frying Units

You’ll want to remove all grease from frying units and grease cooking units. Your frying units hold a lot of excess food particles that won’t show up when regularly held in hot temperatures. If you bring these to room temperature, things will start to grow. Make sure you clean your fryers after you’ve removed the food and before you leave.

Shut Off Water Heaters

Shut Off Gas Hookups to Equipment

Check for Gas Leaks

When your ovens are on all the time, it can be difficult to identify small gas leaks. Once you’ve turned off the gas hookups, check for any smell. If you detect a smell, go to where it’s strongest. Look for any pipes or fittings that are showing visible cracks or defects. Make sure you mark these spots and get them fixed and sealed. Note: Be prepared for pilot issues when you go to turn the gas on. It’s extremely likely that it could be difficult to get your pilots back up when your doors open. Be ready to work with your trusted hot side provider to get this resolved.

HVAC

Idle the Air Conditioning

Keep it running, but keep it low. Take your thermostats to the high 50’s to save on electricity, without turning the system off completely. Reconditioning the entire restaurant's air after being off can cause compromised HVAC systems to fail. Better to spend a little to save what could be a lot.   

Cold Side

Move Remaining Food to Walk-In Coolers

If you have food supplies that will last beyond your temporary closure, move these items from all small refrigerators and freezers to your walk-in cooler to save on electricity. If you do this, make sure you sanitize the interior of small refrigeration units and ice machines. You won’t notice food particles at near freezing temperatures, but these will start to grow the minute they are switched off. An alternative we’ve seen many customers and industry leaders do is send home all existing food supplies with their employees.

Beverage

Flush Your Beer Taps

If your beer taps will be closed for more than a week, you need to flush and clean the lines. If you don’t, your lines will grow bacteria and funk up the beers. Save yourself this step and call your local beer distributor to have them flush the lines for you.  

Cover and Seal Liquor Bottles

Do this to prevent fruit flies and other insect infestations.

Plumbing

Turn off water

If no one is going to be in the space for an extended period of time, you may want to consider turning off your water. This is a case-by-case decision that needs to be made based off your unique situation. If you do decide to shut off your water, make sure you turn off hot water tanks.

Electrical

Turn off dimmer switches

Joe Gallagher is a Michigan native, graduate of Kettering University, and 10+ year veteran of the restaurant equipment space. Joe has spent his career building ‘what comes next’ within legacy industries, from technical design engineering, to new product development management, and digital transformation. He is a firm believer that tech-enabled services can resolve many of the stubbornly unsolved business problems within the restaurant industry. Joe is the Co-Founder and Head of Development at 86 Repairs, a subscription service that manages the entire repair process for restaurant groups. It is his second startup venture with Daniel Estrada.