Attempting to curb the spread of coronavirus via social distancing has hit large gatherings hard, from the suspension of the NBA season to the sudden cessation of performances of Hamilton to the closing of Bay Area public schools.
Most restaurants’ capacities fall well under the 250-person event maximum that Governor Gavin Newsom called for last week. But as community gathering spaces, many restaurant owners are taking extensive steps to keep customers and food service workers safe.
On March 12, The Lumpia Company announced via Instagram that it would temporarily stop accepting cash. Al Pastor Papi, a San Francisco-based taco truck that vends at Temescal Brewing on Thursdays, also announced that it would accept credit cards only, and that all areas would be thoroughly disinfected every 15 minutes. Al Pastor Papi also offered to provide gloves to customers upon request.
And while several cafes started encouraging customers to bring reusable cups and charging customers for disposable cups earlier this year, it looks like some cafes are concerned about the safety of reusable cups. Subrosa announced last week that all food and drinks would be served in to-go containers. Farley’s East also announced that it would no longer accept reusable cups, and that utensils and hot sauce would be handed to customers rather than self-serve.
Some restaurants have shut down their dine-in services entirely, opting for delivery or take-out options instead. Last Thursday, Monster Pho announced that its Oakland location would only be offering food through takeout and Door Dash, and offered 10 percent off all to-go orders. La Marcha in Berkeley also offered a special promo, offering 40 percent off of bottles of wine ordered to go. Meanwhile, other restaurants, including Binney Park in Oakland and La Note in Berkeley, are offering customers the option of drive-by pickup.
Food events have been hit hard, too. Taste of Temescal announced last week that its March 17 event would be postponed, likely until May. Oakland First Friday also canceled its upcoming April 3 event, with plans to return on Friday, May 1.
Some restaurants have decided to temporarily close down for the safety of all involved. Superhero Desserts in Alameda announced that it would be closed starting March 16, and Hangar One Distillery announced that its tasting room would be closed until further notice. Last week, Nick’s Pizza announced via Instagram that it would be closed until at least the end of the week. “Safety of our community is top priority and the shop is too small for safe distances,” the post read. “If you go out to eat/shop please give service people physical space, they are dealing with hundreds of people a day. Wash your hands, sanitize your credit cards, don’t touch anything you don’t need to.”
Unfortunately, other restaurants were forced to temporarily close due to financial repercussions from the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that two large Oakland Chinatown restaurants, Peony Seafood Restaurant and Buffet Fortuna, are temporarily closed, with no scheduled date for reopening. In that article, Carl Chan, the president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, reported that business in Oakland Chinatown restaurants had dropped by 50 to 75 percent on average since the onset of coronavirus fears.
Looking to support your local restaurants during this trying time while staying at home? Consider purchasing a gift card as a way to help local small businesses stay afloat.