Ready to reopen: Restaurants set to reopen June 8

June 1, 2020, 7:39 am
Rob Paul - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


With June 8 set as the target date for Phase 3 of reopening Saskatchewan, businesses like restaurants, gyms, and the remaining unopened personal services are beginning to prepare for their return.

Red Barn preparing for reopening

Moosomin’s Red Barn and Dano’s Lounge are ready to get back to business says owner Dan Davidson as he and his staff prepare for the reopening date.

“We’re just kind of starting to (put together a plan),” said Davidson. “We’ve been doing our reopening staff plan mostly and our staff started back this morning. So far right now we’re just into full cleaning because we’ve been closed for two months. We’re in a top-down full cleaning and sanitization of the whole place.”

“As of Friday (May 29) we do have pickup too so we have somebody up front welcoming the people, sanitizing, and cleaning handles constantly. We have extra staff that will be scheduled up front that will be responsible for extra sanitization throughout the day. Just to take care of that we’ll be staffing it a little heavier up front.”

“The bathrooms are a key thing, so we have a machine that we bought that fully sprays down the walls and toilets for a full sanitization,” he said. “We’ll close the bathrooms three times a day for 20 minutes per clean of each bathroom, just to fully sanitize the bathrooms from top to bottom.”

“Once we’re open on June 8, we’ve come up with a plan on how our tables are going to be, but we’re still waiting to hear a couple clarifications on our booths — how high the backs of the booths have to be without a two metre distance.”

As Red Barn prepares to reopen their doors, Davidson says it’ll be an adjustment, but this is the new normal and everybody must do their part to keep the area safe.

“We’re just trying to do everything the way we’re supposed to,” said Davidson. “I’m happy with it (the government guidelines). We have to be careful and we can’t forget that this virus is a big problem. Sure, southeast Saskatchewan has kept it in check, but that’s because we’ve been doing things right and we need to keep doing things right to make sure it stays that way.”

“I think everybody is kind of ready to come back to it,” said Davidson. “I think if we were talking about this two weeks in — in March people were scared — but now everybody is getting used to the physical distancing and the masks. It’s just going to be a way of life soon. When you walk around in a couple weeks you’ll see a lot of people with masks on and at the start it’s different, but everybody is going to get used to it fairly quickly. It’s just something that has to be done.”

It’s important to Davidson that his restaurant not only follows all the precautions laid out by the Government of Saskatchewan, but that he takes extra steps to ensure health and safety of all customers and staff.

“All of our staff — kitchen, dishwashers, everybody — are required to wear masks at all times,” he said. “That’s a stipulation that I have — it’s not an option — we have to wear masks and it doesn’t matter if you’re in the kitchen or anywhere. For sure the servers have to, because it’s mandated, but we’re asking all of our staff.”

“I think we’ve got to do our part and make sure we’re doing that extra and make sure we’re seen doing that extra too, to make people comfortable because there is going to be anxiety out there,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re going a little further.

“Of course it’s difficult when our revenue is only allowed to be at 50 per cent and without any travellers we know that that’s going to make life more difficult, but there’s some good programs that are helping businesses that have been rocked by it.”

“It’s definitely different, but we’re eager to get back at it,” he said. “It’s nice to get the staff back — of course we’re not able to call all of our staff back at the start. We need to see how it will go and then we can hopefully slowly build our staff back.”

“A lot of it, nobody knows what to expect yet and we just have to kind of get going. We do have that pipeline coming, and that’s big for the industry here. I think everybody is probably ready and anxious to get back at it. We have to learn, listen, and read what the government is telling us and just make sure we’re doing all of that plus more. We don’t have to be told to do everything, we just have to make sure we’re taking care of everybody and taking care of the staff.”

The Saskatchewan reopening guidelines may be challenging for restaurants, but Davidson says he fully understands the importance of them.

“To me it’s all pretty straightforward,” said Davidson. “All the measures that you have to take are put in there for a reason. They’re not telling us to do this stuff just to do it, there’s a reason for it. It’s to protect people so we’re happy to do it.”

“It’s a challenge — everything we’re doing right now is a challenge. Lots of things have been thrown at us over the last few months and everything is a challenge and we’re just trying to take on that challenge. We’re going to come out of this better than we ever were. We just have to have a good attitude. Nobody can control anything that’s thrown at us. All we can do is do our best and just beat it and find ways and we will.”

It’s been tumultuous last couple of months for all business owners and Davidson says keeping a positive attitude has been paramount for him.

“The first two weeks my head was aching with the stress, but eventually you just say, it’s here and you can’t change it,” said Davidson. “You have to stay positive, negativity is just going to drag you down further and make fixing it that much harder. You’ve just got to be extremely positive and beat it. Let’s be better than we were before. You can’t do anything about it so deal with it and be positive. We’re excited to be open again and whatever it throws at us, we’ll deal with it.”

Cork and Bone owner excited

Jarrod Slugoski opened the Cork and Bone Bistro in Moosomin a short couple of months before the Covid-19 pandemic hit Canada, after a few months of closure he’s ready to get back to feeding the community.

“I’m planning to reopen on June 12,” said Slugoski. “I’ve had two months to think about what I want to do and what menu I want — I have my menus prepared, I know what drinks I want to serve, I know what events I want to try and pull off this summer. I really want to be in the forefront in bringing a social aspect back to Moosomin because I know everything is cancelled this summer. There will be no rodeo, no fair, just nothing and we’re trying to figure out what the best way is to reinvigorate the downtown area and promote socializing in these smaller venues.”

“Everybody is always talking about the need to buy local and support local, but I think that we need to start using the word community instead of local because I think that’s what it is now. Community is more important than ever and if we work together to build the community in our own ways then we can get back.”
Jarrod Slugoski, Owner of Cork & Bone

“Everybody is always talking about the need to buy local and support local, but I think that we need to start using the word community instead of local because I think that’s what it is now. Community is more important than ever and if we work together to build the community in our own ways then we can get back.”

“I don’t know what the population is on kids in this town, but it seems pretty high and I think we need to work to find ways to give them things to do so we’re not always worrying about it,” he said.

With the government guidelines to reopen, Slugoski thinks some of the rules are going to make it difficult to get back into the groove of the food service industry.

“It has to be a maximum of 50 per cent capacity and my restaurant is set up for 44 seats so it’s just a matter of keeping a six-foot distance between the tables,” said Slugoski. “If the staff has to wear gloves to serve tables, I’ll accept that, but wearing masks I really don’t understand how someone is going to enjoy a dining experience when it feels like you’re dining in a hospital.”

“It’s not necessarily difficult to adjust to the guidelines. There’s like two lines moving at the same time, one is people like myself who are itching to get back to normal and there’s the others who are very cautious and wary about going out. I think those two lines are going to meet somewhere down the road, but not right now. I know it’s going to be a slow process to start, but I’ve got to start somewhere.”

Health and safety have always been a key cog in the food service industry and Slugoski says it won’t be a vast change with the Covid-19 specific sanitization guidelines for him and his staff at his restaurant.

“I’ve always had a small staff and they’re aware of what we need to do,” he said. “In terms of sanitation and cleanliness, that’s already a big part of what I do for a living already. I have to make sure that everything is clean and sanitary for multiple reasons. It’s not a huge change.”

“I was listening to this one lady who does hair in Moosomin and she posted a video of all the things she had to do to reopen and I don’t have nearly the same adjustments that she has. We’re not physically touching our guests so it helps our situation a little bit. We just need to distance people from each other. I’m also opening some tables up outside, which will help the physical distancing as well.”

With the temporary closure of the Cork and Bone due to the pandemic, Slugoski has used the extra time to reflect and plans to take his restaurant in a somewhat different direction as he restarts.

“I’m kind of rebranding myself a little bit,” said Slugoski. “I don’t want people to return to my place thinking it’s a fine dining restaurant, because it never really was. I come from a fine dining background and I wanted to bring what I learned to the table of my restaurant. It was never my goal to create a high-end dining atmosphere, I just wanted to have a local communal dining atmosphere. It’s just something different, that’s what I’m working on. I’m changing the way I operate my business, the hours of operation, and things like that. We’re all back at the beginning, every one of us. We’re all kind of starting at the same point now and trying to figure out what’s going to work and what’s not.”

Covid-19 has changed the way people live and as they return to a new normal everybody has to do their part to stay safe, says Slugoski and that will allow for people to start enjoying the community again.

“Social services such as these, there’s a responsibility on both sides,” said Slugoski. “We will do our part, but everybody needs to their part. If you’re feeling uncomfortable then you probably shouldn’t go out yet or if you do feel comfortable then take the proper precautions for yourself. You can’t choose to live the way you did pre-Covid-19 and expect to get the same results.”

“People are definitely looking to get out a little bit and do things for that sense of normalcy,” he said. “There’s also that intimidation factor though, people don’t necessarily know what they’re supposed to do in certain situations. I experienced that when I first opened, people would walk in and not know what it was, if they should sit or wait, or if they could order. Those are things that happen when you walk into something new so if we consider that we’re walking into a new kind of lifestyle, we have to figure it out as we go.”

Fleming Windsor Bar and Grill ready to open

Myrna Dingman owns the Fleming Windsor Bar and Grill and can’t wait to reopen and get back to operating the place she loves.

“We’re very excited to reopen,” said Dingman. “We’ll be opening June 9. We just have to make sure we’re following all the guidelines. Right now we’re just kind of playing around with how we can set our tables up. For now we’ll only be able to seat about 24.”

“While we were closed we did some renovations and stuff so right now we’re trying to wrap those up and then we’ll be ready to go.”

With a dense list of guidelines for restaurants to reopen, it’s the hardest part about getting ready to come back, says Dingman.

“It’s definitely trying,” she said. “There’s a few guidelines I don’t like, but I’ll do whatever they want us to do to get back to it.”

“It won’t be normal for us and it will be challenging I’m sure some days, but we’re all just so excited to get going again.”

“It’s an adjustment for us and it’s an adjustment for the customers,” she said. “Even if they don’t like the rules, they have to follow them. I think that will be our biggest challenge, but I think the people in this area are respectful of us so they won’t want to break rules.”

“I think a lot of people are just so excited to be able to go back out that they’ll be comfortable,” she said. “Our takeout people have been doing an amazing job supporting us so hopefully that continues too.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused closures for the last few months and the target date for reopening gives business owners some hope as summer approaches.

The food service industry has been one that has felt a major impact due to Covid-19 with temporary closures starting in March and the last few months many have relied on takeout and curbside delivery options.

With Phase 3, they’ll be back in business to some extent with all restaurants and licensed establishments being given the go ahead to open for service at 50 per cent capacity as long as they’re following the guidelines from the Government of Saskatchewan.

Reopen Saskatchewan restaurants and licensed establishments guidelines:
  • Seating will be limited to 50 per cent of maximum capacity and set up in a way to maintain two metres of physical distancing between dining parties.
  • Whenever possible, staff should maintain two metres of separation from other staff and customers.
  • If possible, staff should wear personal protective equipment.
  • Physical barriers should be installed where tables cannot be adequately separated. For example, raised barriers should be installed between adjoining booths.
  • Only members of the same dining party should be seated together. A maximum of six people can be seated together at the same table. Larger groups will have to occupy more than one table, while maintaining physical distancing between tables.
  • Aisles should be wide enough to allow room for people to maintain physical distancing. Consider using one-way traffic flow to help maintain distancing.
  • Operators must promote physical distancing wherever possible — for customers and staff — including waiting areas, bar seating, food pick-up areas, and payment lines.
  • Use physical line controls when possible, such as crowd control cordons at entrances and pick-up lines. Place markers (e.g. tape or cones) every two metres as visible cues to support physical distancing.
  • Consider modifying or eliminating in-person meetings and shift huddles.
  • Consider having customers seat themselves by displaying table numbers. The host/hostess should maintain two metres of separation or stand behind a barrier to assign tables.
  • Altering shift and break times to minimize staff working in close quarters. Using markers or dividers in the kitchen to ensure physical distancing.
  • Develop measures for servers to limit contact with customers. Buffets and self-serve food lines remain closed at this time.
  • Customers can sit at bar areas, as long as physical distancing is maintained between groups and individual customers. There should be no movement of customers between bars and eating areas.
  • Recreation areas within restaurants and licensed establishments are not allowed to open (e.g. dance floors, electronic games, dart boards, pool tables, karaoke).