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In The Kitchen with Bret Thorn
Michael Schulson of the Schulson Collective in Philadelpha on reopening for al fresco in this week's episode of In the Kitchen.

Chef Michael Schulson navigates full-service operations as Philadelphia restaurants reopen

The restaurateur works to keep everyone safe, recruit staff and draw customers

Listen to this podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify or SoundCloud.

Michael Schulson, like most restaurateurs, had to shift his operations dramatically when dining rooms at his 12 restaurants, mostly in Philadelphia, were ordered closed as the coronavirus pandemic struck.

All of the Schulson Collective restaurants “are beautifully designed, have great hospitality and service, they feel fun, the music is great, the lighting is great and the food is great,” Schulson said. “Five of those six things you can’t put in a box.”

But he experimented with takeout and delivery — selling spicy tuna rolls and California rolls from his fine-dining Japanese restaurant, DK Sushi, which normally offers omakase dinners, and trying without success to compete with local pizzerias by selling Italian takeout from Giuseppe & Sons. Then, as of June 12, he reopened four of his Philadelphia restaurants for table service outside: Sampan, Double Knot, Via Locusta and Independence Beer Garden.

That has come with its own challenges, such as policing customers who don’t want to wear masks or follow social distancing standards — a task not necessarily suited to restaurant workers accustomed to showing their customers a good time — and the facts that tourists aren’t visiting and many of his regular customers have left town.

In this podcast, Schulson discusses the innovations he’s made at his restaurants and reports from the front lines on how he’s navigating through this challenging time.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary


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