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Restaurant workers increase cleaning, get creative while serving customers in the age of coronavirus

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Posted at 4:11 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 17:01:07-04

AVON, Ohio — Ohio restaurant workers said they are taking more steps to clean before and after interactions with customers as they continue to serve the public during the coronavirus outbreak.

‘Doing everything we can’

Manager Kevin Tite usually serves handcrafted beer to customers at Avon Brewing Company’s bar in Avon.

Now, the bar has been transformed into a makeshift pick-up station so customers can safely pick up take-out orders.

The chairs have all been removed. Instead of drinks, hand sanitizer sits atop the bar for customers to use before and after they get their food.

There’s also a new canning machine. As the coronavirus started to spread, the bar’s owners bought it so customers could take home their brewery’s handcrafted beers, like the cleverly named Medicinal Wheat and Dark Night.

To stop the spread of coronavirus, Tite said only one or two employees at a time staff the restaurant, surfaces are frequently wiped down, and employees constantly wash their hands.

As a result, Tite said he still feels safe at work.

“I feel good, personally, with everything everybody has been doing,” he said.

“We’re doing everything we can,” said Tite. “I’m not worried about it too much.”

How to stay safe

“Anyone handling, preparing and serving food should always follow safe food handling procedures, including washing hands and surfaces often,” according to Melanie Amato, press secretary, Ohio Department of Health.

In an email, Amato said customers can also help stop the spread of the virus when they order food.

She said customers should wash their hands before and after they pick up their food orders, pay online to reduce risk of transmission from paying with cash, and ask delivery drivers to leave their orders outside.

She wrote that restaurants do not need to use any special package because of coronavirus.

“Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19,” according to Amato.

However, the CDC recommends everyone take preventative actions everyday, including service industry workers and their customers.

Here are the CDC Coronavirus recommendations:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.


‘Every possible precaution’

“We’re taking every single possible precaution,” said Larry Shibley, Partner & Chairman, Yours Truly, a family-owned restaurant chain with 10 Northeast Ohio locations.

Shibley said hand sanitizer has been placed in entryways for customers.

There are also sanitizing buckets available at various locations so employees can easily wipe down surfaces, he said.

Shibley also said social distancing has been easy for employees to practice due to reduced staffing. Instead of 40 to 50 workers on staff during a shift, he said only about eight workers are at the restaurant to handle takeout and delivery orders.

In addition to takeout, door delivery, and curbside pick-up, Shibley now offers carhop service. Customers can be served their meals in their vehicles to avoid going into the restaurant, eat their food in the restaurant's parking lot, and hand their garbage to a server so they don't have to bring it home.

“There’s no real contact, except you roll down your window and someone hands you a bag,” he said.

Shibley said his restaurants are only getting “a fraction” of their usual business. “We’re losing money every day with what we’re doing,” he said.

However, Shibley said Yours Truly will stay open.

“It’s our promise to take care of our employees and our guests,” he said. “People depend on us.”

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