As part of our Stories from the Front Lines series, Restaurant Hospitality reached out to restaurateurs to share their experiences during the coronavirus crisis. Here, Robert Quick and Matt Gottlieb, owners of il Bracco in Dallas, share their story.
When the pandemic hit and Texas announced its first round of restrictions closing restaurant dining rooms, we were faced with two incredibly difficult decisions with no absolute right answer: Either stay open to provide our staff with benefits and a modicum of income but potentially operate at a loss and endanger staff, or close the restaurant and not be able to provide any benefits or income to staff.
We chose to stay open because we felt we owed it to our staff and our clientele, who have supported us through our first year of business. To stay afloat, we unfortunately had to furlough employees whose roles were now less essential and reduce hours of the remaining hourly employees.
Next, we had to find our best option for food delivery services and found it in a Dallas ride-sharing service called Alto. The service had surplus labor due to their reduced demand. We trusted them to deliver our food in a sanitary, professional and hospitable manner.
Our main and ever-evolving concern was implementing systems to ensure sanitation. We installed sanitizing stations all through the kitchen and dining room with gloves, sanitary wipes and hand sanitizer. We began a strict policy of wearing and changing gloves and constant washing of hands and raised awareness with our staff to not touch their faces and phones. We are now exploring the best options for wearing face masks.
After we sold out of our fresh food, we whittled our menu down to the items we thought would sell and travel the best to ensure freshness. We discounted wine bottles so our guests could use us as their wine store. We prepared for curbside pickup and delivery by moving aside all of our china and stocking to-go materials wherever there was room.
We’ve had a great response from our appreciative clientele. We are taking this a day at a time and continue to be flexible in reacting to any internal and external changes as they come. If we all continue to support each other and be safe, we can all get through this together.