Please Wear a Mask!
The adventures of running a restaurant during a pandemic continue, we made it through another month. Owning a restaurant is never easy; crises pop up every day, if it’s not a broken down refrigerator it is a plumbing problem or a staffing problem. Our system now has so many moving parts that having a fully smooth lunch or dinner service feels like a miracle.
We have people make parking lot reservations for curbside pickup at our website brucesburritos.setmore.com. When they arrive in the lot we have their phone number and vehicle type and immediately put them in “line” calling in order of arrival. One of the pitfalls is how many people don’t answer their phones. I have long said that cell phones are great for everything but actually talking on. When this happens a food runner has to go out and tell folks to pick up their phone. Another interesting twist I didn’t anticipate is how many people show up in a different vehicle than the one they reserved the spot with. When someone has reserved with a black VW and show up in a green Jeep it is mildly hilarious.
This 2nd to last of July also brought us a week of tremendous heat. We all wear masks while working, when we are in the restaurant and when we are delivering food. The heat and humidity definitely makes that more that difficult, so we all needed extra breaks for water and Bruce bought us otter pops and ice cream drumsticks to eat in the shade in the back alley.
From noon to 2:00 and 4:00 to 7:00 we are hopping, constantly busy with reservations rolling in while we are making 6 to 12 phone calls every 15 minutes. From 2-4:00 we all take turns taking breaks, eating lunch which we either do in the back alley in our cars or in the space next door where no food is made. I love our food but I also love eating from other restaurants and we have been trying to support other small local places that are using best practices for safety. Bonus has been the delicious food we get eat. The Garrison, Artemisia Cafe, Monte’s Fine Foods, Claytons Cafe have all been in the rotation. I also try to go to the Yarmouth Farmers Market every Thursday and either order from the food truck or the lovely Ethiopian food vendors. Each week I try to spend money at different booths.
We aren’t doing nearly the numbers that we were pre-pandemic, but we are definitely breaking even and are able to pay all the bills and our staff. The tips have helped us pay everyone on average an extra $5.60 an hour. Not being as busy has also brought out Bruce’s creative cooking he has been playing with new ingredients and recipes. Last week he made a Mole Sauce with roasted pumpkin seeds, guaijllo peppers and chocolate. It was excellent and many customers have already asked for it to be a regular offering. The week before a Shepherds Pie Burrito with crumbled chorizo, sweet potato, corn salsa, beans, cheese and sour cream.
Even as we, kind of, relax into this new system we have to be looking into the future. How can we maintain this system when its pouring rain for a week in October? When the sun goes down at 4:30 how will we spot cars in the lot? Will we have to come up with an entirely new plan once it starts snowing or will we be buying everyone boots?
We so appreciate the support of our customers, the range of folks that have made reservations is astounding. We still have regulars! People that I talk to on the phone every day and joke that I talk to them more than my own mother. Folks that make a reservation once a week and order the same way they did pre-pandemic. We are also very thankful for the large orders that Bath Savings Bank and Garmin have placed. If you are a large business and wants to do lunch or dinner please email us firstname.lastname@example.org. We will arrange your order and a pick up time, we are more than happy to put names on each burrito for easy dispersal without lots of contact.
My tearful moments this month: hearing little kiddos voices in the background, super excessive tipping from long time regulars, having more people tell me this is their first take-out since March. I miss the kids, I miss seeing them, hearing them, exclaiming over their artwork and watching them grow. Please everyone wear a mask for now so that later we can all see one another again.