COVID-Era Changes in Restaurants

The restaurant industry was pushed into uncharted territory with the onset of coronavirus restrictions. We talk with local Zoup! Franchise Owner, Julie Thomsen, and manager, Marco Diaz, to discover what changes their restaurant in St. Joseph, Michigan has made to prevail during this time.

Diaz and Thomsen inside of Zoup! St. Joseph

1.  As coronavirus hit, how did you react and what did you do to adjust your business? 

“We met with the Health Department after the announcement of Govenor Whitmer’s Executive Order to make sure we had everything covered. Marco, my manager was instrumental in getting the procedures and processes in place.” –Thomsen

2.  What is the procedure you’re following/you followed to re-open your dining room?

“We had to adjust several things. For example, we had to come up with a procedure for our crew and guests to enforce social distancing in the store. To do that we removed some of our seating and spread out the remaining tables, closed some booths, and rearranged the dining room in a way that discreetly created a one-way flow of traffic through the store. We also introduced sanitized table index cards that indicate to customers which tables and chairs have been freshly sanitized.” –Diaz

“We’ve always been very good about handwashing and cleanliness but we have been paying extra attention to it. We enforced face masks and wearing gloves at every station for the crew, as well as BOH social distancing guidelines.” –T

3.  What are some elevated safety measures you’ve taken?

“We had our carpets deep cleaned and the rest of our restaurant professionally sanitized to bring our restaurant to another level of cleanliness.” -T

“Desserts are flying off the shelves, people must be at home and wanting comfort food.” –T

“Sometimes it’s 90 degrees outside and we’ll be getting order upon order of Mac & Cheese. It’s comfort food that a lot of customers like while being at home.” -D

“We’ve also experienced a lot of support from our regular customers in the community. Even though some of them can’t come out to dine in anymore they still order ‘to go’ in bulk to support us as well as to minimize their time outside their homes. Online ordering on the website and on the Zoup! app has gained popularity, and I think people are realizing how convenient it is to order ahead using the app.” –T

5.How have you given back to the community in this time of need?

“We partnered up with Express Employment Professionals and Farmers Insurance, and delivered many orders to area hospitals via our Zoup! to the Rescue Program. We’ve been doing rescues, where we donate soup to those in need for the past 2 years and I think it’s a great initiative to give back to the community.” –T