After a kitchen fire that causes enough damage to close your restaurant, you will have many obstacles to overcome on the way to reopening. In addition to repairing smoke and fire damage, you may also have to deal with water damage created when firefighters put out your fire. You’ll also have to deal with the impact of the fire on your brand and convince your customers to come back. However, the impact of a fire doesn’t have to be all negative. It can also provide opportunities for improvements that will benefit your business. Here are some examples.
Assuming the fire is ruled accidental, you will surely get some insurance money to spend on your repairs. Why not augment those funds with some of your own and get a really awesome update to your restaurant furniture and décor? Depending on the extent of the damage, you may have an opportunity to change more than just carpeting and furnishings—you may even be able to redesign the kitchen or dining room to make it more attractive or more functional.
Another upside of a fire could be the chance to get new cooking equipment. This includes new exhaust hoods to go with the new ovens, ranges, fryers, etc. The latest generation of exhaust hoods come with some pretty impressive technology that will give you better control and oversight over their cleanliness.
When installing new cooking equipment or making changes to your kitchen layout and design, be sure to consider the effect this will have on your kitchen air flow. You may take this opportunity to get your air flow reassessed and purchase new exhaust fans or swamp coolers as needed.
Assuming the fire was linked to greasy exhaust hoods or ducts, you should definitely consider improvements in your fire prevention protocols. For example, you might want to increase the frequency of your exhaust hood scrapings or exhaust duct steam cleanings to help prevent grease from building up to dangerous levels again. You might also consider having new access panels cut into your ductwork to make it easier for every inch of the system to get clean, and you will certainly have to have your automatic fire prevention system reset and your portable fire extinguishers refilled or replaced.
Finally, don’t neglect to make an effort to turn the negative publicity surrounding your restaurant closure into positive publicity when you reopen. You might consider adding new items to the menu or planning a special grand reopening where you invite some of your most loyal customers.