Many restaurants began the reopening process in June. While previously some had been able to do outdoor dining, indoor dining for most establishments began about a month ago. And certainly, the fact that they can now reopen completely is a good thing, numerous restaurant owners across the nation are feeling the pressures associated with the cost of opening back up. As it was, these businesses were operating with not a lot of money coming in; at this point, they are having to put quite a fair amount into sanitization efforts as well as purchasing the requisite supplies for maintaining compliance.
Almost everywhere, face masks are required for restaurant employees, combine this with gloves, increased cleaning efforts, more cleaning supplies, plus having to restock kitchens that were previously only serving take out, and the mounting expenses may not be feasible for some restaurants moving forward.
One such establishment is Detroit's Saffron De Twah, an award-winning restaurant in the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood. They closed back on March 17. Since then chef/owner Oma Anani has been serving frontline workers throughout the crisis. Once that started to phase out, Anani had to regroup and focus on finding a way to get his restaurant back up and ready to run once the reopenings started. This was not an easy task, to say the least.
Saffron De Twah opened back up mid-June. Before the opening, Anani and staff undertook a week-long food preparation period. All told, Anani estimates that he had to put roughly 10k into the business to get it ready to reopen. They essentially had to reorder everything. In light of his feed the frontlines program, his shelves were bare. Not only that but in reordering, the team was in for a rude awakening. Prices on some items have since soared. Adjustments thus had to be made. They've had to pare down the summer menu, and yet still find a way to bring their customers the dishes they've come to expect from the venue. Anani is cutting out beef items all together as he would simply have to charge too much for the dishes to make them cost-effective.
In addition to coping with the sticker shock of food prices, the restaurant is also investing in the aforementioned items required to adhere to new regulations: gloves, masks, more sanitization products. He's also redesigned his kitchen for safety's sake and has added more sinks to the layout. No one knows when this virus is going to subside and so the money spent on necessary protective items will have to continue coming out of the budget.
That said, as Anani is very community-centered, he is hesitant to raise prices. Certainly, some prices will have to come up a bit, but he wants to only increase menu item pricing by the bare minimum. He wants his customers to know that he understands their hardship as well. For Anani, everyone truly is in this together.
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