Shore Town Small Businesses and local Restaurants take a deep breath as they open their doors (metaphorically speaking). It is a moment like this that I hear Angela Lansbury singing “Open a New Window, Open a New Door” from the Musical Mame - it is this motivation that our local operators will need to re-ignite their restaurants and stores as well as reinvent!! Everyone is redefining the way they will navigate this opening through the current climate of change and New Jersey State Covid-19 guidelines. Restaurants that did not have “outdoor” dining, have called upon the innovation of the community leaders to “create” and permit outdoor spaces to generate revenue (much needed). CREATE is an important word here since we must use our creativity to expand our footprint in moving through this pandemic and economic crisis. From my experience in working with Jersey Shore Restauranteurs and Casino Owners, it has been the standard expectation of “90 days of Christmas“ every summer – this is the expression that Locals use when referencing the anticipated volume of business that normally descends upon our communities. Living in a Shore town most proprietors scale back in the winter and have an influx due to the “second home" owners and/or visitors.
As the doors opened on June 15th for outdoor dining and other businesses open with “social distance” New Jersey state mandated guidelines, we can anticipate several different outcomes. With that said, we need to change the rules and expand the footprint.
When I spoke with local community officials they are offering solutions like closing down Essex Avenue between Winchester and Ventnor Avenues so that “Bocca Coal Fired Pizza” and “Hot Bagels and More” can expand their footprint and provide outdoor dining. Essex Avenue between Winchester and Ventnor Avenues is a residential street with homes and street parking- an example of local communities coming together to support such creative ideas and initiatives so that our businesses do not suffer any longer.
These two particular establishments have provided “take-out” services during the pandemic, however, Bocca alone seats well over 100, imagine the revenue lost without indoor dining – or even limited, eventually the 90 days of Christmas could easily turn into 90 days of lingering hardships – again the community support is necessary.
Other establishments like Tomato’s, Sofias, and Steve and Cookies are creating outdoor dining in their parking lots, another creative avenue so our Shore hot spots can be enjoyed and that our favorites can have a chance to capture their summer business and provide a new experience for their guests. The crowds of guests, consumers, customers & clients will be so thrilled to get out of the house, that there will be a great demand for businesses to accommodate everyone. The more cautious consumers will also benefit from such creativity because the risk of infection will surely diminish outdoors, in the heat, and socially distant.
The outdoor dining guidelines are as follows:
New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association’s
Temporary Outdoor Seating Guidelines
All restaurants that provide outdoor dining must adhere to strict mitigation standards preventing the spread of COVID-19. The general operating matrix will require spacing of groups, limiting concentration of people, strict use of PPE, and frequent sanitizing. They will also use the Safe Dining plan as part of their operating procedures; i.e. personal condiments, disposable menus or online menus, etc.
1. Existing approved outdoor seating areas, to include open air patio, balcony, rooftop, parking lots open air and sidewalks, must maintain operating features per approved municipal approval.
The following modifications are required:
a. Space tables a minimum of 6 feet from each other (measured from all edges of the table);
b. Limit table groups to 8 individuals;
c. Eliminate gatherings in the building when entering or exiting outdoor seating area unless the patron is using the bathroom. Bathrooms are to remain open for customer use.
d. Maintain strict social/physical distancing guidelines
2. Open Areas and temporary tents utilized by existing, permitted restaurants, must have all sides of the tent open. The following conditions are required:
a. Space tables a minimum of 8 feet from each other (measured from all edges of the table);
b. Limit table groups to 8 individuals;
c. State approved fire extinguisher within 75 feet of tent area; and
d. Minimum 7-foot 6-inch head room (ceiling height).
e. Tables, chairs, and seats should be cleaned/sanitized after every customer.
3. Cleaning of Outdoor Dining Area: Using approved Covid 19 cleaning supplies.
a. All tables and chairs must be cleaned after every customer
b. High touch areas are to be cleaned frequently
NJRHA Temporary Outdoor Seating Guidelines 2
Frequently Asked Questions regarding tent or portable structures:
1. Can I set up tents or open areas outside of the existing building footprint?
Yes, but subject to local ordinances and must be contiguous to the permitted/license premise unless there is municipal approval and with ABC extension permit.
2. Can I set up a buffet or self-serve beverage?
No, table service or pick-up counter service may only be provided.
3. Can I provide restroom services inside my restaurant?
Yes, you should allow your guest access to bathrooms and sinks. Also, you should clean restroom often.
4. Are masks required for all staff?
All customer facing staff must wear masks. Back of house should not wear masks, especially when working near flames and heat.
5. What are the responsibilities of providing social distancing when there is no table staff?
Owner/operator will still manage property as normal and ensure seating layouts and procedures are followed or otherwise cease.
On June 15, 2020 this is what a Margate City street looked like:
Giulietta Consalvo and Jason Tell - Industry Standard RX, Owners/Operators www.industrystandardrx.com
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