Updated: Webinars and COVID News for Chefs and Restaurateurs

Editor's Note: Plate is making coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find more articles here.

It’s been a long and draining journey for restaurants these past three months as COVID-19 continues to devastate the industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the food and beverage industry suffered more layoffs than any other industry in the month April, totaling 5.5 million, or about 27 percent of total job losses. While some restaurants have closed down completely, others are focusing on delivery and takeout, or have pivoted to retail concepts. And in 42 states, some chefs are starting to consider reopening at 25 to 50 percent capacity. As you navigate your next step right now, we’ll keep updating our list of resources, webinars and financial aid resources. Email us at and tell us how you plan to handle the next phase of your business.


The Illinois Restaurant Association and the University of Illinois Extension, in conjunction wtih the U of I College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition are hosting free webinars as part of the Scaling Up program. This guide created by the Illinois Department of Commerce spells out outdoor dining guidelines for restaurants and bars, and includes health monitoring, physical workspace guidelines, customer behavior and as more restaurants reopen. Check out past webinars on topics like how to prepare cost-effective menus and breaking the stigma of mental health in restaurants, or register for this week's webinar below.


-June 4 at 10AM CST: This webinar will focus on compliance resources and disinifectent practices to allow for safe physical enviroments for patrons and staff, and will cover approaches for enhancing the customer experience while adhering to new operational guidelines. Register here

The Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) has a series of live town hall interviews with chefs and food service professionals that can all be accessed here. Past town hall interviews have featured chefs José Andrés, Nina Compton, Rosa Garcia, Sam KassAndrew Zimmern and Naomi Pomeroy and restaurateur Kevin Boehm. Click here for more updates, upcoming town halls and information on how the coalition is continuing the serve as a voice for independent restaurants.  

The National Restaurant Association also has a wealth of information and resources on its site, including social distancing guidelines, food safety measures and a new ServSafe reopening guideline training video available in English and Spanish. They have also released an updated guide to reopening your restaurant that you can download here. Their education and engagement resource called Restaurants Act aggregates important information and updates on all things COVID-19, including an interactive map of all 50 states and Puerto Rico, filled with information, laws and news. You can also take part in the NRA's restaurant relief efforts every Tuesday, when a collective call is made to congress asking to increase aid to the industry. Download readymade posts and messages in the #TakeActionTuesday toolkit here, or text RECOVERY to 52886. The NRA is also hosting an ongoing series of webinars. Click here to stay on top of upcoming and past webinars, or register below. Past webinar topics have included the future of restaurant menus, how to deal with business interruption insurance claims and more, available on demand.

-June 3 at noon CST: ServSafe and the NRA present Reopening Guidelines for the Restaurant Industry. Register here.

-June 3 at 2:15PM EST: Technomic reports on the latest research and insights about the impact of COVID-19 on restaurants. Register here.

-June 5 at 9:30AM CST: ServSafe and the NRA present Reopening Guidelines for the Restaurant Industry. Register here.

-June 11 at 2PM CST: From Surviving To Thriving, Reimagining the Return of Restaurant Experiences. Register here.

The James Beard Foundation has also ramped up its webinars aimed at providing insight for restaurateurs and hospitality workers. See below for this week's lineup, and click here to access past recordings on topics like understanding PPP loans, food producers in the pandemic, global considerations for re-opening your restaurant, safety guidelines and more. For more info on initiatives, guides for safely reopening your restaurant, recent survey results on what it will take to reopen, chef advocacy toolkits, information on sobriety and metal health and more, click here. ​​

-June 2nd at 1PM CST: The Art of the Pivot— Esther Choi of Mokbar, Zachary Golper of Bien Cuit, and Eric Rivera of Addo discuss their business transformations in the face of extraordinary circumstances. Register here.

-June 4 at 1PM CST: Maximizing your brand in the COVID-19 era. Register here.   

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association is also hosting regular webinars. Go here to find out about upcoming webinars, watch past ones on topics like Restaurants Rising: Innovation in Fast Casual Concepts, mental health resources for the communityredesigning restaurant spaces for success, or see below for webinars this week.

-June 4th at 2:30PM PST: Beyond the Plate: How Bay Area Bars are Navigating the Crisis with Mary Palec of USBG Silicon Valley and Paper Plane, H. Joseph Ehrmann of Elixer, Alice Walton of The Sea Star, and Kevin Diedrich of Pacific Cocktail Haven and Night Market. Register here

SipScience, a national data analytics hospitality comapny for bars and restaurants, will host a webinar to reveal its latest research about restaurant and bar activity, and consumer behavoir during COVID-19.

-June 3 at 4:30PM CST. Register here.

Datassential holds an ongoing Food + Coronavirus Webinar series every Friday at 2PM CST. Each webinar reveals new research on the pandemic and its impact on the food service industry, and features the latest consumer insights, operator perspective and industry developments. Register here


General Information 

The Aspen Institute has put out this useful guide to safely reopening your restaurant, called Safety First: Protecting People During Covid-19.

Here are some recent articles to help you with your business:

As Restaurants Reopen, Gloves and Masks are the New Key Ingredient

What to Consider Before Reopening With Reduced Capacity

Chefs Forge a New Way to Sell Their Food By Partnering with Grocery Stores

Is Your Eco-Friendly Takeout Packaging Really Sustainable?

Chefs File Lawsuits as Insurance Companies Reject COVID Claims

The LEE Initiative Expands to Support Restaurant Workers in 19 Community Kitchens Across the Country

How to Close Your Restaurant

Restaurants Pivot to Feed Hospital Workers to Give Back and Stay in Business

Visa Holders Are Caught in the Middle Amid Mass Restaurant Lay-offs

Empleados con Visas Afectados por Despidos Masivos de Restaurantes

What the American Families First Act Means for Restaurant Workers 

These Chefs are Transforming their Restaurants into General Stores

Industry Facebook groups

Here are few pages we are following right now:

Hospitality Industry Alliance | COVID-19

Hospitality Strong


Industry United

Independent Restaurant Coalition

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association

Service Workers United for Power

Another helpful resource for industry workers who are struggling with addiction issues and looking for community right now is Ben’s Friends, a peer support group with outposts across the country. The group has started hosting daily virtual meetings on Zoom, where members of the food and beverage industry can find a safe, anonymous space to discuss their mental health and find solidarity.


We will continue to update this resource list.  Email us at or let us know in the comments about other resources, forums or social media groups you are relying on right now.