St. Louis Bar & Grill is in the process of reopening its doors to the public after months of COVID-19 shutdowns. The precautionary measures taken by the sports bar to ensure the health and safety of staff and customers are extensive, and quite possibly the calibre that all restaurants and bars should be wishing to emulate going forward.
When faced with the opportunity to reopen, many restaurateurs, although excited by the prospect, are finding the practical aspect of the task daunting. With so many regulations and safety procedures to adhere to, navigating your altered business model in the wake of COVID is complicated. In the spirit of maintaining a restaurant’s atmosphere despite the changes and generating revenue once again — while ultimately ensuring everyones’ safety — St. Louis Bar & Grill have done a stellar job, at least on the surface that is. With a surprisingly high number of Canadians claiming to be nervous at the prospect of returning to restaurants and the government mandates still prohibiting indoor dining, only time will tell how the food and beverage landscape will fair in a post-COVID world.
Last week Retail Insider was taken on a virtual tour of St. Louis’ Yonge and Davisville location to showcase the safety measures implemented by the popular Canadian bar as it readied itself to reopen.
Due to operate at government-regulated capacity, physical distancing measures are in place, ensuring guests and employees stay six feet apart at all times. A redesigned floorpan to accommodate 50% capacity helps with this implementation. The restaurant is fitted with directional arrows on the floor and numerous signs and posters on the walls outlining the regulations imposed and reminding people to adhere to them. These signs stretch throughout the interior and exterior of the establishment. There is ‘before you enter’ signage at the front door, alerting guests not to enter the premises if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
The bar has installed plexiglass shields between and around all booths, creating a bubble-like atmosphere for parties dining within the restaurant. There is also a limit on the number of people allowed to dine per table.
Regarding table settings and service, tables are empty, void of condiments — which can be brought by a server upon request — and food is placed at the end of the table to maintain physical distancing measures between staff and customers.
All reusable menus have been shelved for the foreseeable future and replaced with single-use, recyclable menus that are disposed of after ordering. There is also the option for guests to order on their smartphones using a QR code accessible at all tables.
In the wake of COVID-19 St. Louis has created a new role within its employment lineup: Chief Sanitization Officer. The role of the Chief Sanitization Officer is to clear used glasses, plates, utensils etc., and the CSO is also responsible for sanitizing door handles and other high-traffic touch-points. The CSO is solely responsible for these duties. All surfaces are disinfected after each use and once the CSO has sanitized a table it is clearly marked with a tent card to indicate that it is ready to be occupied by the next party. In addition to this precautionary measure, each server is equipped with their own personal sanitizer that they carry on their person at all times.
Spray sanitizer is available to all guests upon arrival at St. Louis, alongside an employee who’s priority is to welcome guests and educate them on implemented protocols.
Staff screening and health checks occur during every shift, including temperature checks and an extensive list of appropriate questions regarding the status of each individual’s health etc. All front of house and back of house staff are required to wear face masks at all times.
St. Louis Bar & Grill Founder, Brent Poulton, spoke to Retail Insider about his optimism regarding St. Louis’ future and the importance of maintaining a positive atmosphere for guests in a potentially anxiety-inducing situation. “I feel very optimistic going forward because I believe we’re all creatures of habit and those habits don't change overnight. All we can do as a brand is create trust between us and the customers. What we’re doing is identifying peoples’ expectations of what a safe dining environment looks like and we’re striving to create and accommodate that.”
“What we've always emphasized and relied on is the personality and culture behind the brand. I don't think the fact that people are wearing face masks or are sitting beside plexiglass shields is really going to change peoples’ experience. You’re going to get people who are extremely nervous but we hope to be able to prove that we’ve taken all the necessary precautions to keep people as safe and happy as possible.”