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  • Writer's pictureElliot Figueroa

Yes We Are Open! Now What?

The service industry is open for business as usual. Whatever "usual" is; well that's up for debate.

I recently visited my favorite steakhouse in north Jersey. In past visits our meal, service, and experience were impeccable. From the reservation process to the way the linens are cleared after each course to make way for the next extraordinary culinary feat. This time was no different sans the experience. We beat the rain by a mere 30 seconds.

The meal started as "usual" with the pleasantries of a return loyal guest and an offer for the house sangria. The appetizers were brought promptly and the vigilant server remained within earshot without disturbing throughout the meal.

Cue the differences; We were sitting on patio tables in a parking lot under the cover of an event tent with plants making up for the usual leather, brass, and hardwood ambiance of the dining room. Nevertheless, other than making to the car before the heavens opened up to a Jersey downpour, it was phenomenal.

This is not the case for all restauranteurs or proprietors of any kind. Hotels have scaled back on services, and increased the focus on cleaning practices. Clubs have had to minimize capacities in the clubs and courses to accommodate social distancing. Restaurants have had to be creative with their "outside space," to say the least, to allow for CDC guidelines.

The flexibility and adjustments will continue for the foreseeable future. Guidelines, contactless, social distancing, face coverings, and virtual have all become synonymous with the operation of any service establishment. These are not likely to simply disappear once a vaccine, treatment, or cure is found. Their purpose may shift from requirements to SOP's to gain public trust or to simply augment health and safety protocols.

Just think, the bathroom sign reading "Employees Must Wash Hands" will never go away. Maybe it will have a new line that reads "Customers/Guests."

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