Navigating COVID-19 Through the Lens of the Restaurant Industry

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By Roy Gilad, Co-Founder and CEO of Vitality Bowls

It’s no secret that the restaurant industry has been one of the most tremendously impacted industries by the pandemic. For the first time for many of us as restaurant owners, the fate of our businesses are not a result of our work or dedication to the restaurants we lead and love. This is a force greater than we could have imagined, and we are all doing our best to stay agile and adapt.

It’s clear that while restaurant dining may have changed for the near future, it is still an essential sector of our economy, culture and our society. The restaurant industry cannot simply come to a halt. No matter the uncertainty, we must continue moving forward. As business owners, operators and overall believers in what we do, there are promises we must carry out in our communities.

For Vitality Bowls, health, wellness and safety has always been a part of our mission. Before COVID-19 struck our communities, we have always prioritized preparing high-quality ingredients in kitchen environments that were unusually stringent on issues like cross-contact and food prep safety. The origin of that focus comes from my own family – my wife (and co-founder) Tara and I wanted to create a place where our daughter and others with food allergies could safely eat.

Now, we are adapting to an even stricter set of guidelines for health and safety in our restaurants from start to finish, and I’m proud to say our locations are rising to the occasion and quickly adapting to these new norms.

Like many restaurants, our first priority is to keep our locations running without compromising the quality of our products or the safety and health of our employees, customers and community members. We are closely following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. We have turned operations at our stores into carry out and delivery only, and implemented curbside pickup. We take our customers’ peace of mind seriously, which means making the process of ordering and picking up from our restaurants as internally controlled and contactless as possible. We have signs and floor markers to make it easy for individuals in our restaurants to adhere to social distancing, and as our franchisees work closely with their employees to help them adjust to the new measures and precautions, we aim to remain as transparent and available as possible. 

We also understand that as a growing brand with locations across the United States, there’s truly no quick, one-size-fits-all solution. Our corporate team has stepped in to provide operational support to all of our franchisees as we weather the storm together. We’re leading regular conference calls and Q&A sessions to advise on crisis business strategy formulation and administration, engaged operational experts to augment our SOPs to minimize exposure to the virus, collaborating with our national vendors to deliver for one another. In addition, we have contracted professionals to help us set up the Emergency Rent Abatement program, and moved ahead with marketing, PR and social media campaigns to educate and connect with our communities.

Throughout this experience, our team has been laser focused on coaching and supporting our franchisees and being there for the communities we serve. I have been continually impressed by our corporate team and our franchisees, who have shown incredible humanity toward communities across the nation. That courage and goodwill has motivated our entire system and shown us the power of coming together to do good.

That courage and goodwill has motivated our entire system and shown us the power of coming together to do good.

Many of our franchisees are now leading donation initiatives to feed front line workers, first responders and medical professionals. In markets all over the country, franchise owners are matching the donation offers from customers. Some franchisees have already contributed upwards of 1,000 meals to those hard at work on the front line. Our franchisees have truly committed themselves to seeing it through, taking time to deliver donated meals and smoothies to medical centers and hospitals, city organizations and grocery stores and giving their support and words of admiration to frontline workers in person.

I encourage each and every franchisor, franchisee, corporate team member, restaurant operator and employee to think about how they can contribute to the common good as we are making our way through this pandemic as a society. How can you make your place of work safer for everyone around? How can you provide comfort and support to customers? What can you do to give thanks to those on the front lines, facing the pandemic head-on? It is easy to fall into the fear or be discouraged by uncertainty, but our franchise system has proven it is not the only option.

Remain determined to carry out your promises and goals in the face of panic, and when in doubt, do good, because that will carry us all through in the end.

 

Roy Gilad is the Co-Founder and CEO of Vitality Bowls. For more information on Vitality Bowls, click here.