MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Chow Time restaurant, like many others, felt the impact of the pandemic.
“We had to strategically work out a plan where we could survive,” says Chow Time Owner Carolyn Kent.
After buffets were shut down, Chow Time pivoted to get approval from the Health Department to be able to re-open.
“Usually you know with a buffet you have the plates, you pick up the plates. You pick up the utensils, but we didn’t want the customer to handle anything. So we went to the cafeteria style, but we did all he serving,” says Kent.
It helped them survive.
But now the Health Department says all buffets can come back with new guidelines.
”There should be a station for customers to sanitize their hands and there should be signage saying before you go to the buffet and serve yourself make sure you use hand sanitizer,” says Dr. Bruce Randolph with the Shelby County Health Department.
They must also use disposable eating utensils and require masks at all times unless a customer is eating.
“Ideally if you are going through a buffet you are gonna wanna have your mask on. As you can see I have my two masks on now because that is what the CDC is recommending because we know these new variants are more infectious,” says Dr. Jeff Warren, who sits on the Covid 19 Task Force.
Infectious Disease expert Dr. Stephen Threlkeld worries about opening up too fast.
“If we do relax restrictions we have to be very careful. I think there is certainly a chance those numbers will go up on us as we relax our behaviors,” says Threlkeld.
As for Chow Time, they will continue cafeteria-style until COIVD numbers decrease.
”Then I think we will feel a little more comfortable with everybody handling a spoon. Right now we just don’t think that’s the best thing for right now,” says Kent.
The new health directive re-opening buffets takes effect this Saturday, just in time for Sunday brunch.