As Cincinnati restaurants begin to reopen, hand sanitizing stations, masked servers, and social distance–marked floors are the new dining-out norm. On Friday, May 15, Ohio restaurants put many of these practices into place as they opened their patios, followed by dining room service this Thursday, May 21.
“Even though it was hard because we were all doing something that we’ve never done before, it was also really rewarding just to have the guests cooperate and appreciate the safety measures,” says Jacob Wooten, general manager of BrewDog Cincinnati in Pendleton, of the weekend’s outdoor opening.
While precautions like frequent handwashing, capacity limits, and single-use menus are being enforced state wide, several local establishments are going above and beyond to keep their customers and staff safe.
At Lebanon’s The Golden Lamb, one of these additional measures will include “stop and scrub” handwashing reminders for staff. “Every 20 minutes, everybody stops what they’re doing, or takes a quick pause, and does a really good 20-second handwashing,” says general manager and operating partner Bill Kilimnik.
The historic inn and restaurant will also require staff members to take their temperatures before their shifts and regularly clean high-touch surfaces using a “gold sticker” system. “We’ve marked all of the high-touch areas with these little gold dots,” Kilimnik explains. “Every two hours, we’ll call Gold Dot, and everybody stops for a second and they clean the nearest gold dots within arms’ reach.”
Along with sanitizing tables and chairs after each use and staying aware of the health of their employees, Condado Tacos at the Banks has shifted its casual walk-in environment to reservation-only dining. “That’s been a big change,” says Chris Mendoza, the restaurant’s manager of culture and hospitality. “It’s very important for us to make sure that we maintain an atmosphere where our guests feel safe, and our employees. With a reservation-only system, we can make sure we don’t have groups of guests gathered in front of the restaurant.”
Although reopening has been met with both anxiety and anticipation, Wooten is hopeful after seeing his BrewDog staff implement the new safety measures and his guests readily cooperate—a combined effort that will need to continue to ensure best safety practices. The bar is using floor markers as a visual aid for social distancing, providing protective table screens upon customers’ request, and promoting contactless ordering with their app.
“This whole situation is new to all of us, whether we’re serving or attending the restaurant,” Wooten says. “It’s nice to see both staff and patrons working together again—hopefully that can be one positive thing that’s come out of this.”