Advice For Restaurants In The New Normal: 5 Tips with Ann Rolke

**AVAILABLE NOW: COVID-19 E-Book: 7 Tips and 21-Point Checklist to Prepare For Reopening. Download Your Free Copy.**


This edition of Give An Ovation features Ann Rolke, an expert consultant in the restaurant industry. 

As the former VP of Marketing of the California Restaurant Association, chef, cookbook author, and more, she had some great insights about the food industry post-COVID-19 that she shared with Ovation CEO Zack Oates: 

1. Think About How Your Items Are Appearing Off-Prem

While it’s easy for you, the operator, to understand why your food may not look as good when delivered as it does in the restaurant, it’s harder for the customer. Their expectations are still just as high, so it requires a lot of thought to meet them. Is your food arriving hot? What does the packaging look like? Etc.

2. Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Because restrictions are changing almost every day, it’s not so important what specific actions you take, but rather that you create a flexible system that can withstand change. 

For example, consider creating a customer board of advisors of sorts, which means finding a core group of loyal customers who can give you feedback on new processes like delivery, curbside, and online ordering. You could start with family and friends and then grow the circle from there. 

3. Have A Plan A, B, C, D…

Many of us thought we might be done with the corona virus by Easter. 

Many of us were wrong. 

It’s clear that it’s going to last for a long time, so think about what long-term changes you can make such as converting outdoor areas to outdoor dining. Most cities are being very lenient right now. 

4. Limit Your Take-Out and Delivery Menu

It may be hard to decide what to cut, but Ann put it simply: keep your best-sellers and anything else that isn’t worsened by delivery. 

Another good idea Ann gave was delivering pre-prepared meals ready for the customer to assemble, such as pasta with the sauce on the side so that it doesn’t marinate and get gross. Get creative!

5. Just Focus On Your Biggest Problem Each Day

When asked what her one piece of advice for restaurateurs would be, Ann said “just breathe.” She noted that sometimes we just go, go, go in business and don’t take the time to stop and make strategic decisions. 

She suggested finding time to pause every day and analyze what you’re doing. This isn’t only effective in a business sense, but good for your mental health too. 


Thanks for reading! Make sure to check out the whole podcast, as well as other interviews with restaurant/business gurus by checking out “Give an Ovation” on YouTube,, or your favorite place to listen to podcasts. 

And don’t forget to follow Ann on LinkedIn or follow Feed The Front Lines 916 on social media for more from her!

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