Metro New York and national restaurant and foodservice operators have experienced a surge of challenges due to the impact of COVID-19. Staff furloughs topped the list in March and April of 2020 and now businesses are faced with the task of safely onboarding team members, old and new. A major setback is the moving target of COVID-19 government protocols alongside CDC, city, county and state policies, especially as it relates to seating capacity and other service implications.
For Karen and Michael DiPeri of HMG+, the COVID-19 pandemic put into sharp focus the need for industry guidance and a framework to ensure the safety of their staff, clients and partners. As hospitality leaders for more than 20 years, the duo has innovated and pivoted their business over the years to deliver exceptional guest experiences through diverse service offerings.
The DiPeri’s background in the catering, restaurant, club and bar business has fostered a tradition of building community among team members, which makes the impact of the pandemic very personal. Business as usual is stacked against new normals like virtual schooling and strictly adhering to evolving safety protocols – all while working to stay afloat. No matter the demand, the DiPeri’s continue to put their team, clients and partners first.
With New York City’s return to 25% of indoor dining capacity and companies welcoming back employees to their corporate dining facilities, a new phase in the COVID-19 pandemic is once again upon us. This latest phase is accompanied by hope balanced with caution. On the horizon is a second wave that could come with a change in the weather and what many are calling pandemic-fatigue.
Against a backdrop of uncertainty, one point remains clear: reopening of businesses must include specific guidance and protocols to protect staff and customers.
“Companies will need to take a holistic approach to reopening,” noted Michael DiPeri. The HMG+ co-founder and CEO brings extensive career experience, including managing hospitality and foodservice operations.
Building on its legacy of service excellence, HMG+ elevated their commitment to the proper educational training of foodservice and hospitality professionals with the launch of the Academy for Hospitality Arts (AHA). AHA reflects the intersection of professional development with holistic hospitality. One of the course offerings is for a Covid Hospitality Compliance Officer (CHCO). The CHCO course merges guidance from the CDC and WHO, with deep-rooted industry experience and knowledge of the DiPeri’s and their industry colleagues.
When asking Mr. DiPeri about this newly developed course he told us, “people have to have confidence in the hospitality industry and know that there is a standard of safety, that’s why we came out with CHCO.”
When asked the secret to success in the hospitality business, Michael responded: you must be client-focused. “We’ve always taught that the most important thing is to leave everything at the front door. When you come to work to serve others, you have to be in that moment, and the only thing you should focus on is providing an exceptional guest experience. You have to make sure that all the guests in your station are enjoying themselves and it’s a must to be naturally hospitable.”
The HMG+ approach to service is also based on a platform of consistency.
DiPeri continued: “You can pretty much standardize any aspect of a restaurant and when you find a recipe that works, you instill the process and duplicate it.” He obtained this theory from after working for more than 38 years in the hospitality industry and navigating various challenges along the way.
HMG+ has built its reputation for giving back to the industry they serve including their long-time involvement with Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management (SHFM). With the goals of solidarity, innovation and resilience in mind, HMG Plus has taken a step to support the community it serves. The DiPeri’s and their team have created a COVID-19 Readiness Guide for hospitality professionals to implement.
“Our COVID-19 Readiness Guide provides industry leaders with detailed holistic guidance to ensure the safety of our employees, clients and partners” Karen DiPeri said. “The guide includes best practices like guest arrival, registration, food & beverage service, and much more.” The COVID-19 Readiness Guide can be downloaded at hmgplus.com.
The DiPeris and HMG+ have an eye toward the next chapters that will be written post-pandemic as they help the industry battle to get reopened. “How we deal with this challenge defines how we move forward as an industry, together,” Michael DiPeri concluded.