GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Restaurant owners are hoping to clear up any confusion about whether they are still open for business amid the dine-in ban. Although Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order shut down dining rooms, many food service businesses are still offering carryout or delivery services and are relying on that to stay open.
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“We’re open, we’re here for you to provide food for your families, and we’re a whole lot cleaner than a grocery store,” said Justin Buiter, owner of Railtown Brewing in Dutton.
When the governor’s orders came down two weeks ago, he says headlines showed that bars and restaurants rather than they were switching to carryout. He has seen the confusion from customers who didn’t realize they could still get their favorite beer and food.
“Getting that message out has been difficult because we’ve had to change the conversation, but people are finding out every day that we are open and still providing those services,” Buiter said.
The process to get the food from kitchen to table has changed, although Buiter says they’ve always followed strict rules about sanitation.
They are still stepping efforts to make sure everyone stays safe by washing hands even more frequently and wiping down surfaces. There is minimal staffing in the kitchen and only five customers are allowed in the building at one time, following the six-foot distance recommendations marked with tape on the floor. The brewery is also taking credit card numbers over the phone to avoid passing cash or cards between hands.
Buiter thinks it’s a cleaner option than going to a grocery store where the cardboard packaging and other materials change a lot of hands, and customers touch things on shelves and put items back.
“There are just a whole lot more touch points in there than at a restaurant where you have sanitized hands making your food, sanitized hands delivering your food and passing it right to your family,” he explained.
Buiter said he’s doing about 40% to 50% of their normal revenues, which is still encouraging to him, considering it could be nothing. He had to lay off all of his employees and call them back on an as needed basis but hopes that the carryout business will keep the company afloat long enough to reopen fully after the pandemic subsides.