On March 16th, the company for which I had worked collectively for 25 years, had to close due to COVID 19. We had all been following the news but were confident in our safety as we maintained a clean facility as required of hospitality. When we were ordered to close, we were thinking maybe 2 weeks max. Well, here we are, two months later with a whole new reality.
As a Director of Catering, my professional world revolved around events. Since we are still required to maintain social distancing, there is no vaccine, and many of us have family and friends who are immuno-compromised, how will our industry encourage guests safe return? While those at higher risk are always encouraged to proceed with utmost caution, we are fortunate that there are innovative thinkers who are providing some unique options to encourage the reopening of restaurants and continuance of events, all while enlisting extreme procedures to prevent the spread of the virus.
Limited seating, limited hours, and new partitions! For restaurants, finding a new normal has not been easy, but to be sustainable, you have to roll with the punches. Many restaurants are at half capacity to maintain social distancing and expanding menus to allow for items that are suitable as a take-out option. The city has also allowed additional outdoor seating, and Sacramento summer evenings on a patio with a Sangria are always the best. We are spoiled in Sacramento to have access to so many great eateries, so make sure to patron your favorites, and do so responsibly!
The most challenging of tasks I have experienced in my career was rescheduling weddings and events during the pandemic. Yes, I could move them to a different date, but could I guarantee we would not have to move it again? What happened if they lost their job and couldn’t pay for the wedding? I wanted to so much to ease their stress, which was especially difficult since when I was no longer receiving a paycheck and had no guarantee of certainty for myself. Good news is most of the clients were extremely understanding and it looks like venues are beginning to reopen with customized arrangements. Lower headcounts in larger venues can adhere to social distancing with families seated together. I am excited to learn more about what our creative counterparts have in mind to encourage the safe return of events!
The other anomaly of the pandemic is the opportunity to be introspective and find out what really inspires us. In the fast-paced adventures of event planning, we don’t often have time to stop and reflect, so being unemployed was a (un)welcome change of pace. I plan on tackling a new adventure, and while it’s exciting and scary at the same time, I am going for it. CHEERS TO YOUR NEW NORMAL-- whatever it may be!
Be safe and kind to one another. We are all in this together!