The Brooklyn Chop House restaurant in downtown New York City is ready to welcome back the public at a time when health precautions will be just as important as what comes out on the plate.
The dining room has been outfitted with clear partitions between tables and table settings are now wrapped in plastic.
The safety measures don’t stop there.
The Brooklyn Chop House is going hi-tech in order to reassure diners even before they enter by using temperature-reading devices.
Stratis Morfogen is the restaurant’s director of operations.
"You basically put your eye on a thermal scanner, and you walk through. If you're over 99.6, the red lights will go on. Not a net. We're not going to cover you. A red light goes on, very softly, no sounds. We're not embarrassing people. And then we'll bring you to the wall that you can put your wrist up, and it will confirm your temperature. If you're over 99.7, yes, unless the city has any issues with it, or the government has issues with it, we're going to recommend not to walk into the restaurant at this time.”
And the hi-tech precautions don’t stop there. Aim a smartphone at a barcode - and up pops the restaurant’s menu, making paper menus a relic of the past.
But in a restaurant forced to drop seating capacity from 200 to 140 due to social-distancing regulations, there are still some issues that just can’t be addressed by technology…so for that, the restaurant has turned to a low-tech solution.
"Now, we know that it's very hard to work with a mask. We have to speak to guests. We have to talk to guests. So, with this, we created a fishing cap to make it a little fun, because I got to convince my staff to wear it, and it's actually very comfortable. The shield comes down to my breastbone. We will have a mask here. But, let's be... we... we know it's gonna happen. It's gonna come down. The mouth will be exposed. You have to talk. You have to communicate, when you're in the restaurant business. But my staff, from the cooks to the front of the house, will wear this.”
Some of the ideas are already being tested via social media. Photos of the remodeled dining room are on the restaurant’s Instagram page and so far, the response has been positive.
"We have 450 comments regarding this, and 99 percent were super happy about it. They said, 'actually, leave them after the vaccine,' because that, actually, gives a sense of intimacy."
And what about after dinner when it’s time to pay the bill and hands have been so close to the mouth? The restaurant has an answer for that too:
“We always present - fresh lemongrass, we boil, we put the towels in, and you wash your hands, and you smell lemongrass. Well, now it's going to have a spoonful of disinfectant.”
The Brooklyn Chop House hopes all these extra touches, which will come at a cost of about $15,000, will be enough to convince the public that eating here will be safe - when the dining room reopens this summer.