By John Grigg: [email protected]
Once the decision to loosen restrictions on our movement is made and Aruba’s hotels and restaurants are allowed to reopen, which products and practices will prove successful in attracting clients back into our businesses?
What will our pre-Covid19 vaccine new-normal look like?
One could optimistically imagine a Covid19 vaccine implemented by/during the Fall of 2021; what must we do between now and then to prepare for that time when we and our customers (both local and visitors) begin to feel comfortable again in a busy, bustling restaurant?
Initially, restaurants must help consumers overcome their fear of close contact with non-family members. A recent USA study (Datassential, Bloomberg) indicates that one third of respondents think it will not be safe to eat out in the next 3 months.
To help address this fear, seating restrictions, whether voluntary or mandated by the regulatory authorities, may be implemented to provide some degree of mealtime social distancing.
A suggestion has been made to limit restaurants’ seating to 50% of their rated maximum capacities.
To a restaurant not previously sold out, this may be easily implemented but to the high-volume, consistently full popular eateries, this restriction will likely cut badly needed revenue. Those businesses with suitable exterior patios and/or gardens may wish to offer outdoor options and take advantage of Aruba’s regularly cooperative weather.
Just this week the Governor of California remarked that it may be necessary that servers wear gloves and masks, a practice that may protect both the customer and the employee. Will masked servers appear to be safer?
Restaurants (and airlines among others) during this pre-vaccine time may start client temperature checks at the door, with the intention to deny access to those registering a fever.
Likewise, restaurants must remove coughing/sneezing customers because, unlike an unruly or crying child whom management begrudgingly requests their relocation/removal, potential virus-spreaders can cause irreparable harm to vulnerable patrons and must be removed.
Additional practices to address clients’ fears that should be considered if not already in place are digital menus, whether on flat screens in the dining areas or using the clients’ own phones to avoid touching surfaces repeatedly touched by others.
Daily Specials may be displayed on tablets held by servers or on mobile screens/chalkboards if updates to digital menus are not easily made.
On these menus there should be included items with ‘accessible pricing’ to attract those persons with less disposable income, a condition likely to be felt by most locals and visitors in the foreseeable future.
Once re-opened, restaurants should consider adding options including take-away, curbside pickup and delivery, with emphasis on dishes that travel well and have a unique presentation in eco-friendly biodegradable/recyclable packaging.
Restaurants must develop capabilities for receiving/processing contact-less payment methods to avoid when possible handling cash, ATM & credit cards (Google Pay, Apple Pay, Pay.aw, etc.).
For those restaurants featuring a buffet, it may be necessary to have attendants whose job will be to plate the clients’ desired selections to avoid clients’ bare hand contact with buffet serving utensils. Self-service operations may be restricted or eliminated in a pre-Covid19 vaccine future.
In the back of the house, chefs, managers and supervisors must be held accountable for their staff’s STRICT adherence to proper food safety procedures and practices. Leaders must lead by example and should immediately WASH THEIR HANDS thoroughly at every opportunity throughout their shifts, setting an example that MUST be followed by staff.
Proper handwashing is likely THE most important exercise that leaders can insist that their food handlers perform. This is true for everyone preparing food, whether in a restaurant or AT HOME. The repetitious reminders on TeleAruba may seem simplistic to some, but proper handwashing can avoid so many viral and bacterial problems that there can never be too much emphasis.
Unlike bacteria, viruses do NOT multiply in food but use food (and food contact surfaces) for transmission between carriers. Most viruses and bacteria are destroyed through cooking Time & Temperature Control for Safety foods (TCS, aka potentially hazardous foods) to their minimum internal cooking temperatures* and through proper cleaning and sanitizing of food contact and hand contact surfaces.
It is Management’s responsibility to ensure that ALL Food Handlers receive proper food safety training that addresses temperature control and abuse, proper personal hygiene, avoiding cross contamination and cleaning & sanitizing procedures among others.
In addition to food safety training, Management MUST monitor employee health and send anyone with
illness symptoms (cough, sneeze, temperature, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea) home immediately. The SVB ‘AO’ in Aruba is of great benefit to keeping sick workers home, unlike in the USA where no work generally equals no pay. F&B staff have some financial support when they must remain at home to protect themselves and their colleagues and clients.
In order to survive and eventually thrive in the coming new normal, Aruba’s food service establishments must demonstrate a disciplined confidence in its contra-contagion capabilities through well thought out processes (digital menus, ordering and payments), procedures (screening, distancing, cooking, cleaning & sanitizing) and people (well-trained, confident and healthy).
Fruits & Vegetables
Fish & Shellfish
Beef, Pork (muscle)
Ground Beef, Pork, Fish
Poultry (chx, turkey, duck)
Stuffed items (Relleno)