Culinary no-no #652

THERE ARE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF FOOD BLOGS, BUT ONLY ONE CULINARY NO-NO!

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Owning and operating a restaurant has never been easy. It’s about to get a whole lot more difficult. And needless to say the dining experience you’ve known your entire life will change dramatically.

Shortly before the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the state’s stay-at-home order, ruling it “unlawful” and “unenforceable,” Governor Tony Evers’ administration published guidelines for businesses to follow as they prepare to reopen. Here are major points from the section on Restaurants and Food Service:

This document includes guidance for any establishment that provides meals or retail food sales within the state of Wisconsin. This includes full-service restaurants, fast-food establishments, grocery stores, schools, senior meal sites, cafes, delis and coffee stands, as well as food trucks, caterers and mobile food vendors.

Employees should wear a face mask or cloth face covering when near other employees and customers. Instruct your employees how to properly put on and remove a face mask or cloth face covering.

Sanitize high-contact areas in the front and back of the house (for example, doorknobs, buttons, cooler doors, shopping carts/baskets and check-out counters) every two hours, or after each user if feasible.

Sanitize tables and seating after each guest.

Sanitize food contact surfaces after each use.

Restrooms should be sanitized frequently, and the establishment shall monitor that patrons and staff adhere to social distancing guidelines regarding restroom use.

Use disposable menus or sanitize menus after each use.  

Do not use disinfecting wipes to wipe more than one surface; use one wipe per item or area and discard after each use or when visibly soiled.  

Use gloves to avoid direct bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods or unwrapped single-use items such as straws, stir sticks or toothpicks. 

Wrap food containers to prevent cross-contamination.  

Do not allow customers to refill their own drinks; only allow staff to refill drinks, and use a new cup or mug for the refill.  

Use rolled silverware/napkins stored in sealed bags.  

Staff will roll silverware in designated sanitary areas.

Do not preset silverware.  

Once removed from the sealed bags, utensils may not be reused, even if they have not been unwrapped. 

Grocery stores are permitted to keep open areas where customers self-dispense unpackaged foods, such as fresh produce.  

Self-dispensing that requires the use of tongs or scoops, like bulk bins and bakery displays, are encouraged to close but not required to do so.  

Grocery stores are required to sanitize the tongs and scoops frequently and close the self-dispensing area if they are not able to accomplish this sanitizing. 

The capacity of customer-facing businesses should be reduced as much as possible to ensure adequate social distancing. 

Eliminate any unnecessary physical contact between staff and customers, and maintain social distancing with a six-foot distance between individuals whenever possible. 

Install physical barriers such as sneeze guards and partitions at cash registers, bars, host stands and other areas where maintaining physical distance of six feet is difficult. 

Offer cashless and contactless transactions whenever possible.  

When exchanging paper and coin money, do not touch your face afterward.

Ask customers to place cash on the counter rather than directly into your hand.

Place money on the counter, not in hand, when providing change back to customers.

Clean counter after each customer at checkout.

Any indoor or outdoor waiting area must be marked to enforce social distancing standards.

One member of a party should be allowed in the waiting area, while other members of the party wait in their vehicle.

Advance reservations are preferred to walk-in dining.

Dining rooms should maintain six feet between tables.

When possible, physical barriers made of plastic or similar solid material should separate tables/booths.

Tables and booths that are not compliant should be clearly signed and blocked off (i.e., with visible tape) across seats and tables.

Limit each tables to six guests. Extra chairs should be removed and tables may not be combined. 

For bar areas, two bar stools should be left empty between customers not in the same party. The same rules apply to outdoor patio areas. 

Use floor markings in entry and cash wrap areas to encourage social distancing.

Smoking patios should be closed or limited to one person at a time.

Common-use areas (such as lounge areas and child play areas) should be closed if social distancing and sanitizing between users cannot be maintained.

Install sanitizing stations (with hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol) at the entrance to your business and encourage customers to use them.

Remove all unnecessary touchpoints, especially those that cannot be sanitized. Examples include the use of pens to sign receipts (cashless and contactless transactions are recommended), paper ordering slips, and order/table buzzers.

Remove shared condiments from tables. Provide them by request and sanitize after usage, or provide single-use containers or disposable packets.

Close all self-service food and drink stations (for example, salad bars and buffets).

Continue offering online sales, delivery and curbside pickup, and reduce the number of customers dining at once.

If offering take-out/carry-out options…Avoid direct hand-off if possible.

Post signs to inform customers of food pickup protocols.

Provide physical guides, such as tape on floors or side-walks, to ensure that customers remain at least six feet apart in line, or ask customers to stay in their cars or away from the establishment while waiting to pick up food.

Food trucks and caterers should adhere to similar guidelines to restaurants regarding social distancing. This may require food trucks to operate with only one employee.

Food trucks should locate at least 30 feet apart to provide adequate room for queuing with social distancing.

These recommendations will impose a major and costly burden on restaurant managers. Many previous patrons will be turned off.

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Chef Tyler Sailsbery (above), owner of The Black Sheep restaurant in Whitewater told The Milwaukee Independent, “I have no intention of giving up now. But literally every day, I say, ‘Tyler, how many more years can you go to work and work 14 hours a day just to get by?’”

Image may contain: people sitting, living room and indoor

Vermilion is an Indian restaurant in Chicago. Rohini Dey is the founder and owner and just wrote a devastating opinion piece for CNN. From “Restaurants will need a miracle to survive.”:

Our customers can’t eat with masks on, and we can’t deliver plates while staying 6 feet away from them. Nor can we separate our employees in cramped kitchens, which are designed for compact efficiency and speed.
 
Guidelines for redesigning a restaurant for reopening are inconsistent at best. Each of us will have to weave through myriad manuals — from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, city and state health officials — and consultants to figure this out.
 
Despite all social distancing and scrubbing as states tentatively begin to reopen, safety will be a nightmare to enforce with a virus that stays viable indoors in guest airflow pathways. Or for our employees that use public transportation.
 
Reorganizing our space to fit social-distancing requirements will reduce our capacity and slash revenue by at least two-thirds. Much of our space will be unusable, including bars, communal spaces, large tables and booths. All our fixed costs, meanwhile, from rent to leases to contracts, won’t shrink at all. The cost of food and safety-related sanitation will only go up, in some cases drastically.
 

It gets worse. We will face higher unemployment insurance costs and contributions once the federal bailout winds down. We face potentially increased Covid-19 liability from employees and customers, which our insurance will not cover.

And we are likely to face repeat disruptions and shutdowns as infections surge again. Just the thought of facing another winddown and open-up is emotionally paralyzing.
 

Pretty serious. But also ridiculous.

Consider this Ohio restaurant.

And this restaurant in Virginia.

Good grief, could it get any worse?

One thought on “Culinary no-no #652

  1. Pingback: My Most Popular Blogs – The month of May 2020 | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

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