Local businesses team up to help each other re-open

NOW: Local businesses team up to help each other re-open

NEW BUFFALO, Mich. --Businesses helping businesses!

New Buffalo restaurants and breweries are all coming together to discuss and compare notes on the best ways they can all re-open in the safest and healthiest ways possible.

“We wanted to get a bunch of other restaurant owners in the area together because we have so many restaurants here locally," said General Manager of the Beer Church Brewing Company, Tyler Mantei. "And we all wanted to try and get on the same page safety, what everyone else is doing so that.. our clientele base if they come to one of us they come to all of us so we figured the safer the better and everyone get on the same page.”

A two hour meeting.

8 local store fronts.

One main goal: to re-open their businesses keeping everyone involved as safe and health as possible.

So Beer Church Brewing Company brought 7 other store fronts together for a socially distant meeting to go through the state's re-opening guidelines together.

The meeting allowed store fronts like Beer Church Brewing Company, Peasants Pantry, False Front and David's Delicatessen, Skip's, Flagship Fish Market, Black Currant Bake House, and Froelich's all took the opportunity to discuss and compare the different strategies everyone is employing.

Surprisingly, not everyone was ready to re-open right on Monday, in fact most chose to wait a few more days if not weeks.

Beer Church BrewingFalse Front/David's DelicatessenPeasant's PantrySkip'sFlagship Specialty Foods and Fish MarketBlack Currant Bake HouseFroelich's
Open at all?Yes: carryout and delivery

Yes: carryout and delivery

Yes: carryout and delivery

Yes: carryout and delivery

Yes: carryout and delivery

Yes: carryout and delivery

Yes: carryout and delivery

Open yet to indoor guests?No: Friday, June 12thNo: unsure of specific dateNo: Saturday, June 13thNo: aiming for Friday, June 12thNo plan for indoor guests yetNo: Thursday, June 11thNo: Thursday June 11th
Requiring a mask?No, but highly recommended

No, but highly recommended

No, but highly recommended

No, but highly recommended

No, but highly recommended

No, but highly recommended

Other specifications per restaurant: -Stopping delivery as of Friday.
-Will be trying single use menus.
-Carryout is still happening
-Planning to make single use, "favorites" smaller menu and will give bigger one on request.-Not requiring signatures and doing touch-less tipping to keep payments touch free.
-Will be asking customers to let them take their temperatures and possibly some general health questions.

-No reservations.
-Will be first some first served basis.
-Stopping delivery as of Friday.
-Sticking to curbside ordering for the near future.-Will start to take reservations.

Some notes similar across the board:

- All employees will be wearing masks along with gloves throughout their day (replacing gloves as needed with intermittent hand washing).

- Employees will have their temperatures checked before coming into work each day.

- Thoroughly sanitizing between every guest at every table with several different sanitizers.

- Setting up sanitization stations throughout the restaurant/market/brewery with smaller bottles of hand sanitizer at every table. 

- Using excess signage to make sure guests understand what is expected of them.

But even with all of these measures in place there is still a fear not only for the guests, but for those who are providing the experience.

“I think there is a fear that we have those in the service industry," said Michael Faltum of Peasant's Pantry. "It’s about food and drink it’s about...it’s a disease spread by droplets so we’re scared everyone’s a little scared but you know what we’re going to do the best we can to take care of everyone and that’s all we can do.”

The coronavirus has thrown everything these businesses are used to out the window.

"Like so many people in this industry it has been both a blessing and a curse," said Rachel Collins, Principal, Flagship Specialty Foods and Fish Market “ 

“It’s not ideal but it’s what we have to do to get through it," said Faltum.

There have been changes both big and small to get through the pandemic that has changed everything about the dine or drink in experience.

“We have taken away all our cafe seating and our public restroom," said Jesse Ives with Black Currant Bakehouse in Union Pier.

Which makes things hard when these store fronts and town rely on their summer customers.

"Tourism is huge in this area," said Tiffany Livengood, General Manager, Skip's Restaurant and Catering.

“The influx of summer customers is good for all of us fellow merchants up here whether we’re retailers, restaurants, markets, bars," said Collins.

Coming together with other businesses helps to bring everyone on the same page.

“I still feel like there’s some foggy areas and this is why we wanted to get everyone together in case people are hearing things we haven’t heard," said Mantei.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 is going to be a long term issue that every industry will be working through.

“COVIDs not over because it’s summer. It’s still here it’s still running rampant and we’re going to see spikes all across the country because of it," said Faltum.

Which is not comforting to hear when owners still feel in the dark on what they can do in the mere days they have to prepare.

“That there’s no guidance from any level of anything and we’re trying to wing it," said Ives.

Which does not help when there are guests coming in from all over the state and surrounding areas where restrictions and guidelines have not been as strict as in Michigan.

“Some folks who only come once or twice a year and in the summer they may not be aware of our safety protocols," said Collins.

If you choose to go and dine out, remember things might look different.

There might be longer lines, extra steps, or other guidelines that you and the staff now have to follow.

However, these steps are put in place behind the scenes to keep you, your favorite local spots, and their employees healthy.

“The sense of community today was so good to experience," said Livengood.

“The fact everyone was willing to come together and share what they’ve learned on a very fast learning curve was tremendous and speaks to our community," said Collins.

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