Epidemiologist turned chef provides tips for restaurant owners during COVID

Posted at 5:00 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 17:09:17-04

“Making sure that the staff are wearing face masks, having hand sanitizers available, proper distancing,” said Phil Fuentes.

This is the new normal. Nowadays, these added qualities are what make a restaurant great and most importantly safe.

“I’ve been to a couple of restaurants that don’t take it as seriously as others. So you see people grouping together. Usually I try to steer clear of places like that,” said Phil.

“I had a lot of faith in how we respond to emergencies, pandemic, outbreaks because I’ve been in that setting. I know what it takes. I know the people behind the scenes,” said executive chef of Diya Sunset Harbor, Vidya Maharaj.

Vidya is a chef and research scientist in the field of pharmaceutical research.

“I monitor clinical research before it goes out into the market. That’s my day job. My night job is a chef here,” added Vidya.

The epidemiologist turned chef, says what helps her take this restaurant to the next level is her experience in the medical field. An advantage that she has over many business owners during the pandemic.

“Going into that emergency response mode and understanding what the needs are for our staff and what the needs are for our customers,” said Vidya.

Vidya says for restaurant owners who are still struggling to make their customers feel safe, she recommends making everything accessible without having to use your hands. So virtual menus, foot pedals to open doors, and of course following social distancing guidelines.

“We also have a lot of hand sanitizer stations around the restaurant for customers and employees. So we’re doing everything to make sure we prevent and decrease the exposure as much as possible,” added Vidya.

“I wasn’t sure how restaurants were going to take this seriously or how the guests in the restaurants were going to take this. But now that it’s been a few months in I feel a lot better going out,” added Phil.

Vidya says if you’re a restaurant owner she recommends to post how you’re following CDC guidelines because every customer wants to make sure they’re safe while ordering food.

She also says they’re hiring employees. Find more information here.