To address waning consumer confidence brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Texas Restaurant Association, in cooperation with Dallas College and mystery shopping firm A Closer Look, is rolling out a new program to train, evaluate, and certify restaurants on the additional protocols that must be followed per Governor Abbott’s minimum standard health protocols.
“As restaurants across the state slowly re-open their dining rooms, 77% of consumers say they plan to reduce visits to restaurants in the future,” stated a news release from TRA Tuesday. “Without those sales, more small businesses and family legacies will be forced to close their doors forever.”
The Texas Restaurant Promise Certification Program, which is being funded via a grant from the Texas Workforce Commission, is meant to ensure employees understand the protocols of operating in a COVID-19 environment. It also aims to establish trust between restaurants and their guests.
Restaurants, cafes and bars that go through the training will display a Texas Restaurant Promise Certified and Verified decal on their doors.
The training program consists of five courses focused on key roles within a restaurant: managers, takeout/delivery line staff, servers, kitchen staff, and cleaning crew. In order for a restaurant to earn the Texas Restaurant Promise Certified and Verified decal, a minimum of five employees must complete the requisite courses and the restaurant must undergo a third- party onsite evaluation by A Closer Look.
The initial grant from TWC will provide funding to train and certify 500 restaurants with 2,500 of their employees. TRA and Dallas College plan to continue expanding grant funding from the Texas Workforce Commission to ensure all restaurants and employees can participate.
“This comprehensive program allows restaurant owners and their staff to demonstrate to the public that they have done everything possible to safely receive guests in their dining rooms,” said Dr. Emily Williams Knight, TRA President and CEO. “I am proud that TRA can provide a training program to ensure employees are aware, trained, and certified in what is expected and required to safely operate today.”
TRA estimates nearly 700,000 jobs and $5 billion in revenue have been lost since the start of the pandemic.
“While the economic devastation has been significant, the innovation that we have seen from restaurant operators across the state has been inspirational,” said Steve DeShazo, Senior Director of Culinary, Pastry, and Hospitality at El Centro College. “This certification program exemplifies innovation and commitment to guest satisfaction and Dallas College is proud to partner with the TRA and industry to provide this important resource.”
“At A Closer Look, we believe that when customers feel restaurants are taking their health and safety seriously, they are more likely to return and recommend others. Both are critical components to helping restaurants thrive again,” said Chris Gillen, CEO of A Closer Look.
The program formally kicks off on June 24.