Texas Restaurant Association Launches COVID-19 Health & Safety Training Certification and Restaurant Verification Program

Expansion of the Texas Restaurant Promise in partnership with Dallas College and A Closer Look prepares service staff while building customer trust

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. Without those sales, more small businesses and family legacies will be forced to close their doors forever. To address consumer confidence, the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA), Dallas College, and A Closer Look today announce a new program that will train, evaluate, and certify restaurants on the additional protocols that must be followed per Governor Abbott’s minimum standard health protocols. A grant from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is powering the work behind this innovative program. 

The Texas Restaurant Promise Certification Program ensures employees understand the new protocols of operating in a COVID-19 environment and establishes trust between restaurants and their guests. Customers should begin to look for the Texas Restaurant Promise Certified and Verified decal on doors of Texas neighborhood restaurants, cafes, and bars as an indicator that these businesses have gone above and beyond for their safety. 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 their Texas Restaurant Promise Certified and Verified decal, a minimum of five employees must complete the requisite courses and the restaurant must undergo the third part of the program – third party onsite evaluation.

A Closer Look, a mystery shopping and customer experience company with decades of experience in the hospitality sector, will provide the third part of the program, onsite evaluation. A member of A Closer Look’s team will visit participating restaurants multiple times, providing feedback directly to the owner/operator for them to incorporate into staff training. Additionally, A Closer Look’s Health and Hygiene Satisfaction Program ensures standard health protocols are consistently followed in all locations, providing critical feedback and best practices on any necessary changes. This feedback loop also includes feedback directly from customers on their perception of restaurants’ health and sanitation standards.

The initial grant from TWC will provide funding for 500 restaurants to be evaluated and certified with 2,500 of their employees receiving training. 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, President and CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association. “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. This is a big win for our industry and will continue to build trust between consumers and restaurants. With more than 700,000 jobs lost and 5B in revenue since the start of the pandemic, Texas restaurants need this support and I am confident will continue to rise to the challenge of feeding and caring for Texans.”

“Dallas College is excited to partner with the Texas Restaurant Association to deliver rigorous online health and safety training aligned with the guidance provided by various public regulatory agencies,” said Dr. Joe May, Chancellor of Dallas College. “With restaurants offering their patrons added peace of mind after training and certification, there will be increased revenue for businesses, particularly the restaurant and hospitality industry, which has suffered devastating losses. Dallas College strongly supports the local economy and renews its support for the workforce that powers them.”

“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. “We are excited to launch the Texas Restaurant Promise Certification in partnership with the Texas Restaurant Association and Dallas College. For over 25 years, we have helped restaurants assess and improve their operational effectiveness and financial performance. It is our honor and pleasure to help those restaurants impacted by COVID to safely serve their customers again.”

The program kicks off with a launch event on June 24 at 11:00 a.m. with the following guests:

  • Dr. Joe May, Chancellor, Dallas College
  • Dr. Emily Williams Knight, Chief Executive Officer for Texas Restaurant Association (TRA)
  • Bryan Daniel, Chairman and Commissioner Representing the Public, Texas Workforce Commission
  • Aaron Demerson, Commissioner Representing Employers, Texas Workforce Commission
  • Steve DeShazo, Sr. Director of Culinary, Pastry, and Hospitality
  • Kelvin Walker, CEO, Dallas Citizens’ Council
  • Nikky Phinyawatana, Owner, Asian Mint
  • Chris Gillen, CEO, A Closer Look
  • Moderator: Anna Tauzin, Chief Revenue and Innovation Officer for TRA

Attendees can join the kick off call using this link.

The first class will start on June 25. More information can be found here.