We are now getting a glimpse of the future of dining out. Restaurant executives played a large role in the governor’s Reopen Florida Task Force, weighing in on what establishments could look like and how best to keep us safe.
One of those CEO’s is Tim Petrillo with The Restaurant People in Fort Lauderdale. TRP owns nearly a dozen concepts in and around Las Olas Boulevard, such as YOLO, Township, Boatyard and Rooftop.
Petrillo told NBC 6 that none of the restaurants opened the first day of reopening to train staff on the new COVID-19 procedures and cleanliness protocols. The goal is to have guests touch as little as possible.
The Restaurant People even converted one of the bars next door to YOLO on Las Olas Boulevard into more dining space to maximize social distancing protocols. O Lounge will return to business when bars open up again.
NBC 6’s Sheli Muñiz asked Petrillo if going out to eat will ever be the same again.
“I do, I do. I think we're social creatures and we want to be around people and I think that once people get accustomed and used to this type of world we're in, it’ll become more and more comfortable,” said Petrillo.
Between all of its concepts, TRP has roughly 800 employees, 75% of whom were furloughed.
“We’re hoping to bring back about 80 to 85% of the staff now and so far, we've been pretty successful with getting in contact with all of our employees. They’re excited to get back to work as you can imagine,” said Petrillo.
Petrillo told NBC 6 he was blindsided by all of this back in March.
“I can tell you, I was actually out skiing the week before this happened and not a care in the world, and I came back and the world had changed," he said. "We had thought there would be some type of restrictions, but a total shutdown we never anticipated that, and then extending that to 60 days, we never forecasted for that as well.”
The Restaurant People said they’ve taken the down time to make some changes to the menu and add some new items.