This is the second part in a series on how our local restaurants are navigating state regulations on health and safety concerning COVID-19. We are doing our best to be inclusive, but with so many restaurants, we may not be able to get to everyone.
However, we still want to hear your stories: How have regulations changed the way you do business? How has creative thinking made the best of your situation? Do you plan on making any permanent changes even when regulations ease? How can customers and the community help as you continue adapting to a new business model? To share your story, email: email@example.com
Boothbay Harbor Oceanside Golf Resort’s restaurant Coastal Prime opened May 21 with a state-of-the-art response to health and safety risks relating to COVID-19. President John Suczynski said wearing of masks, mandatory temperature checks for staff and guests, and strategic spacing of indoor tables are the standard measures the restaurant and Boothbay Harbor Country Club have taken from the start.
“But we've also added (an ultraviolet) lighting system, a germ and virus killing system which goes into the heating, ventilation and air conditioning. It's something similar (to in) hospitals. The light, as it passes through the air-handlers … kills the germs and viruses and bacteria.”
The additional efforts, which have since been done in the Oceanside rooms, are part of the effort to make everyone safe on all grounds. Hotel patrons are asked to sign a liability form saying they have quarantined for 14 days or have recently tested negative for the virus. In all, guests have overwhelmingly expressed gratitude for staff and management’s efforts, said Suczynski.
“They're hesitant as everyone is to go out, but they said when they come here and get their temperature checked … and they see people wearing masks inside and the servers wearing masks, they feel more comfortable with the precautions that we're taking … We're just trying to do the right thing. There's no playbook.”
BHCC and Oceanside Public and Member Relations Manager Michelle Amero said the Boothbay region has benefited from the low number of cases in Lincoln County. “I think Boothbay Harbor has done a really good job as far as the businesses adapting and being open for business and being creative. It's about opening safely, but also being warm and inviting.”
Suczynski hopes some of the success on the hospitality end will bring in enough visitors to help soften the region’s economic blow from the pandemic and help carry the local business community into the next year. “Hopefully they'll be able to salvage the year because that's what we're trying to do … The hotel room business is down pretty dramatically, but the cottage business is up. I think guests feel that they've got more control over their environment in a cottage situation.”
Coastal Prime and Paul’s Steakhouse at BHCC are doing far better than expected. Suczynski attributed that to the extra precautions the restaurants are taking and a positive attitude of staff and guests. “When this first hit, I thought ‛We're trying to run a business, make a profit, now we've got all this incremental expense with masks, sanitizer, (touchless) thermometers, people on staff to do things that we never had to do in the past.’ We've done it and it has had a boomerang effect. The fact that we've done all of those things is actually paying dividends. I have to admit it, I didn't see it in the beginning, but I recognize it's become a benefit.”
Despite making lemons out of lemonade, Suczynski fears all these precautions will be needed for the foreseeable future. He is hopeful businesses will not have to deal with the virus next season and, if they do, in a drastically different way. Amero said because the Boothbay region is maintaining its welcoming atmosphere and continues putting health and safety first, she is hopeful visitors will keep coming and enjoying everything the area has to offer. “It kind of feels like there's a little bit of an oasis here, but we're not putting our guard down, we're still doing what we need to.”
Said Suczynski, “Uncertainty – talk about a killjoy. Some people are just paralyzed by uncertainty … and everyone's risk tolerance is different, so we try to make it as safe for people as we can. There's no perfect recipe, but in the meantime we'll keep doing what we're doing.”