The outbreak of Covid-19 threw a wrench into the works of life as we knew it. It is a struggle for everyone who has lost employment or is trying to find a new normal in their daily jobs. While they may normally lie in the back of our minds the hospitality industry continues as a backbone of our society to be there when we need them most. Through quick adaptation, going to takeout and adding provisions and pantry items, they have proven they are not going anywhere soon. Their responses were creative and put into action as quickly as possible doing everything not only to stay open but to serve the communities they are in.
Restaurants, bakeries, and ice cream shops have proudly served with a smile for years, but even being essential businesses has not made this pandemic an easy journey. The effects have ranged from temporary to permanent closures or surviving through tak
eout and delivery, outdoor dining and eventually indoor as well. It is a rickety bridge to cross as just one misstep could be enough to shut a small business down for good. Phase 2, of Governor Charlie Baker’s reopening process allowed restaurants to resume indoor dining as of June 22nd. Jeff Gates, an Aquitaine Group partner, and a member of the board at both the Massachusetts Restaurant Association and National Restaurant Association, is optimistic about doors opening this week. “I look forward to guests joining us indoors this Monday. Our staff looks forward to continuing their diligent effort to provide an outstanding meal and service in a safe environment” Gates stated. A goal that other restaurant owners will surely share as they prepare their staff and interiors to meet the states strict safety regulations.
While diners venture in for their first chance to eat in a restaurant since March, some will understandably be wary of taking the extra risk too soon. Restaurants owners and staff are doing everything to keep their stores safe and sterilized, but patrons will still need to remain conscious of their own health. “We need our guests to wear masks when they arrive, move in the restaurant, and frankly leave when they cannot maintain social distance in their lives away from our small business. Our staff have their health checked, they wash hands and sanitize, surfaces are cleaned, masks are worn, gloves are on when handling prepared foods. We are very careful and regulated industry already; we have this under control” Gates stated. Customers should investigate safety guidelines online and on social media for their chosen restaurant to maintain a safe environment for everyone. This will be an incredibly stressful period for waiters other dining staff. Remember that they are doing their best to provide safe and exemplary service and wouldn’t mind some extra kindness in these difficult times.
Above all, it is an exciting opportunity for small businesses to continue to operate. Unfortunately, several restaurants in the Boston are have already announced that they will be closing for good amid the pandemic. Among the closures are Stella’s, O’Leary’s, Backyard Betties. Estimates for total restaurant closures by the end of the pandemic are around 25% in mass, but Gates continues to look towards a brighter future for local businesses. “Any number greater than zero restaurants losing the battle to reopen is too many. I am hopeful the number will be less than the 20-30% forecast. Thankfully, the weather has been delightful, so outdoor dining has given some restaurants an early pop. Don’t forget the changes to PPP were extremely helpful and a big step in the right direction” Gates stated.
This community has supported us, including The Aquitaine Group (now 21 years), and it’s our time to support them. Fortunately, there are options for everyone’s comfort level. What they have done is exhausting to think about and we are sure they are working harder now than pre Covid-19. It is up to us to decide how our communities will look in a healthy future. For our communities to recover as we knew them it will require the aid of the patrons they’ve proudly served; from bakeries, restaurants, ice cream shop and everything in-between.
Ultimately, we know for our events, Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer, Cape & Islands Bakes for Breast Cancer and Rhode Island Bakes for Breast Cancer, this year will be different but we know we are fortunate to have the support from an industry who always gives back.