Governor DeWine recently assembled a group of restaurant owners and operators, among many others, to help plan for and guide the gradual reopening of restaurants in Ohio. According to many observers, those guidelines could be coming as soon as this week.
Rick Doody of NCR Ventures, which operates Lindey’s Lake House and Cedar Creek Grille restaurants, was part of that advisory group. As he describes it, the panel included roughly 40 participants, including restaurant owners and operators, health officials and various municipality workers. Those people were subdivided into factions that focused on employees, customers and physical spaces. The task was to come up with best practices that will balance the health concerns of employees and customers while allowing for restaurants to reopen in some capacity.
“We can be ready in three or four days,” Doody says of his ability to reopen.
While Doody is unable to share specific recommendations – or whether or not those proposals will be adopted – he did say that they were wide-ranging as representatives came from operational backgrounds that ranged from fast food and fast-casual to fine-dining and breweries.
According to many industry observers, customers and operators can expect 25- to 50-percent occupancy limits, 6-foot distancing, physical barriers where distancing is impossible, bare tabletops (no glasses, silver, menus…), no self-service beverage stations, frequent sanitation, party-size caps of 10 and frequent health scans.
Asked if occupancy limits spell doom for many restaurants, Doody says the problem increases as dining rooms and patios decrease.
“I’m not that worried about the capacity at our restaurants as much as others,” he says. “How often are you at full capacity at your restaurants? Our restaurants are big enough that we can spread people out and still do a pretty good business. My bigger issue is the when and the how.”
Some say that patios might be given the green light first with dining rooms to follow a few weeks down the line.