The COVID-19 CSafe Induction is an online guide to the safe working protocols outlined by the HSE, HSA and NSAI for those re-opening their businesses and those returning to work during the Covid 19 pandemic. More Information>>
While it is difficult to ignore all the conflicts around physical distancing, the best thing businesses can do now is make and execute their re-opening plans, and concentrate their energy on the things they can control. Communicate with staff, sort out employee training, organise menus, layouts and seating plans and start to communicate those to customers, with an emphasis on safety and an enjoyable restaurant experience.
We asked some leading restaurateurs who have their plans made to share them and today we bring you three, so let’s start with Peter Macari who owns Rustic and Gastro 101 in Naas and DaVincis, Rustic and Alvitos in Leixlip, as well as many of the tradional Italian take aways bearing his name.
"We have been trading throughout the different phases on the take away side, and we re-opened the restaurants for delivery and collection after a week, so we have a lot of our systems working, although obviously sit down is a different affair." he told us in a phone interview yesterday.
"We will have temperature checks for all staff when they arrive daily, and hand sanitisers at the work stations and kitchens. All the staff are taking the online induction course, and that is working very well. Cleaining between sittings and courtesy and awareness will be a huge part of the success of re-opeing" he said which chimes with the messages coming from Failte Ireland in their Guidelines and communications tips.
"We are putting screens across the back of booths and we have removed tables to give our-selves the space we need to be compliant with the guidance, whatever that may be when we re-open." referring tomm the guidance on physical distancing.
"We are planning on having two sittings per evening, with a maximum number of diners at any one time. Our staff in the take away wears face masks and we have screens at the till, and we will have face masks for staff in the restaurants to begin with anyway."
"I really believe this is going to be about providing the best experience we can while adhering to the safety protocols so I'd advise to train your staff, establish good communication, make your plans and move forward with them. The noise in the background about distancing will resolve itself, and there's little I can do about it anyway. In the meantime I have businesses to run and re-open and jobs to save."
In the centre of Dublin in Andrew Street you will find Salamanca tapas bar and restaurant, Caroline Boyle's wildly popular tapas restaurant. Normally at this time it would be heaving day and night with regulars and the myriad of tourists who flock to the city in the summer. She has been closed for the duration, but does tapas boxes to order.
“I'm planning a phased reopening of Salamanca on July 1st. Initially I will run dinner service from 4pm seven days and lunch service Friday, Saturday & Sunday but this will gradually increase to the other days as we go along and gauge demand. I will adhere to government guidelines with regard to physical distancing.
We will have a lead Covid representative on duty for every shift, and we have been bringing our staff through the back to work induction training. The health and safety of our team will be paramount, and if they know what they are doing, I believe they will be more confident and feel better coming back and dealing with our customers after all this time.
Capacity will be reduced but we are looking forward to the eventual (we hope) announcement of one metre between tables. Salamanca will provide a collection & delivery service shortly after we open and we will continue with our Tapas Boxes and Vegan/Vegetarian Tapas Boxes delivery which we are currently providing as a service.”
“I believe if we do our best and continue to provide an enjoyable experience in a safe space, we will come through this.”
Finally we spoke to Nicole Jordan, GM of Fire Restaurant at the Mansion House and Sole in South William Street, two of Dublin’s flagship restaurants. Nicole was interviewed in the Irish Times during the week and we spoke to her afterwards about her plans. Fire have already published their Welcome Back protocol on the front page of their site and are very definite about their plans, which is to go with the 1m distance as recommended by the WHO.
“We are stern on the 1m, because to be honest it would be very difficult for us to reopen and rehire staff if it’s 2m,” as Nicole told the Irish Times. “For us 1m is the way we need to go, because we are already losing 40 per cent occupancy in the restaurant. To lose another 20 percent, it would be extremely difficult to open the doors.”
Fire has undergone a €1.1 million revamp, which is a big vote of confidence. They will open seven days a week, offering customers a two-hour time slot at tables. They are treating the 2m as a guideline, which indeed it is. The wording refers to ‘should’ not shall or will, and anyway it was never intended to be a permanent fixture, and has changed slightly several times over the course of the restrictions already, so it certainly isn’t written in stone.
The business will operate within what is practical, which the present guidelines do make allowances for. Fire will operate on this basis “unless it becomes law. Then we would have to go back to the drawing board.”
Here we have three experienced and very reputable operators finding their way through the current situation. Although they have some small differences in operational plans the one constant is planning and preparation. Get compliant, make your plan, stick to it and work on the basis that the Government aren’t actively trying to destroy the domestic economy, which is the only one we will have for the foreseeable future.
**Taste of Ireland have developed the CSafe Back to Word Induction programme to help get the required back to work staff inductions completed. It can be taken by all employess on their smart phone or laptop and conducts a test and reports completions. All for a nominal €5 fee. Check it out at CSafe.ie