LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — What will restaurants look like when they finally reopen for diners?
“Bar Rescue” host and executive producer Jon Taffar says the restaurant industry faces enormous challenges in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
“Short of a vaccine, we’re not gonna get 100% of the way there,” he said.
Public health experts have offered up solutions like operating at half capacity when restaurants get the green light to reopen their dining rooms. Taffar says trying to operate at a lower capacity will threaten the viability of the whole business.
“No business can run at 50% capacity and make the money to pay its employees and sustain itself,” he said.
Taffar said that restaurants will have to retool the way they operate in large ways to avoid cross-contamination — not of food, but of potential pathogens like COVID-19. He says he believes restaurant operations can be compartmentalized into three areas — credit card and cash transactions, running food and drinks, and direct contact with customers that would include bussing tables, taking orders and upselling food.
“By separating all of these positions…We start to create an opportunity to stop cross-contamination,” he said.
But he says the survival of restaurants will depend most on customers — not on whether they come in, but on whether they behave.
“I’m more worried about the customers,” Taffar said. “When the first customers come, and the second group of customers want to come and they’re watching if the first group of customers don’t wear masks, don’t act responsibly, and send the wrong type of imaging, customers are gonna be scared to come.”
The restaurant industry is already heavily regulated when it comes to food handling and cleaning protocols, so Taffar says customers don’t really need to worry about catching coronavirus from kitchens.
“If we all act responsibly, with masks and distancing, more people will come to restaurants,” Taffar said. “If customers act irresponsibly, the restaurant industry is even more doomed.”