If you’re reading this, it means that restaurants in New York City are open for indoor dining.
On September 30th, Governor Cuomo granted permission to NYC owners and operators to allow a slow trickle of customers back into their dining rooms for the first time in over six months, with a 25 percent maximum capacity limit.
The headcount is not the only rule being strictly enforced, but also head temperature. Temperature checks are required at the door— anyone with a fever will be turned away for service. It’s an awkward jump start for our industry, with rules set in place that don’t necessarily feel… hospitable. But the measurements are necessary, most agree, and many are going above and beyond to offer additional personal protective measurements for their guests and staff.
How did we get here? We sat down (virtually) with Megan Blohowiak, President, and Ben VanVoorhis, VP of Marketing & Product Development for Service Ideas as well as Ron Lustberg and John O’Halloran from CLVMarketing to talk pioneering the pivot of procurement to a more inclusive strategy – one that provides not just what our customers need, but what they want to see.
Sarah Bulmer: Let’s start with the headline: restaurants are reopening for indoor dining in NYC. What do you think we’ll see?
Ron Lustberg: “Controversy breeds innovation. In the city, operators have been getting very creative with their procurement and that will definitely continue when indoor dining resumes.”
SB: It’s wild to be this close to eating inside at a restaurant again in New York. I remember when restaurants first shut down, it literally felt like the end of the world. From a manufacturer’s perspective, what did those early days of shutdown look like for you and your team? How did Service Ideas plan ahead for the apocalypse?
Megan Blohowiak: “Taking us back to March, it was a pretty fast and solid shut down. It happened in 48 hours, and we saw it happen across the world. As operators of our own restaurant here in Minneapolis, we were fully aware of the impact this shut down had on our industry. We began looking at what we could anticipate changing in the dining environment, with how people interact with our products, based on safety and sanitation touchpoints.
Ben VanVoorhis: “It was definitely intimidating. We hit pause for a minute. There were all these short-term changes happening with restaurants and consumers were being bombarded with product launches. The regional differences were so varied, so we looked for a lasting behavior change that would fit our brand. Hand sanitizing is not going away anytime soon, and before we created these models, there were not many attractive options available on the market.”
SB: We’re proud to be a stocking dealer of both models you’ve created, both the stainless tabletop model and the sleek, white touch free floor dispenser.
MB: You were amongst the first! We definitely appreciate it.
SB: Like Ben mentioned, there is such an influx of innovation happening. Everyone is scrambling to wrap their arms around the PPE category. What differentiates Service Ideas in this race?
MB: With the dispensers, the major feedback we had gotten early on was that if we could create a model that was effective and actually nice to look at, it would be a home run. We looked for clean lines and compatible with different types of sanitizers and fit into a lot of different environments. That’s what we wanted.
SB: With that, does Service Ideas have any other PPE items in the pipeline? Anything we should know about?
BV: Always the top secret question! We feel that hand sanitation and touchpoints are two categories that we’ll continue to be in. It blends with our product offering. Whether you’re touching airpots or beverage dispensers in a self-service environment, you’re going to want to have something to wipe it down with or to clean your hands. We’re really focusing on touch points.
SB: Just vague enough! Perfect answer. As a partner of Singer Equipment Company, we were there with your team early on, wrapping our arms around PPE procurement and made it our number one priority. How do you see Singer Equipment Company as being vital to the PPE procurement landscape?
MB: Observe, adapt, adjust. That’s what we continue to do and why we rely on our partnership with Singer to do it. Singer has always been early to commit and invest in this everchanging industry. We need that.