The McKinney Restaurant Council meets once a week by Zoom to discuss any challenges owners and managers are facing as they reopen and to openly deal with any questions they may have.
The group was formed when Texas’s phased reopening began May 1, and restaurants and businesses were allowed to reopen at 25% capacity.
Joy Booth, owner of E.J. Wills Gastropub in McKinney and one of the leaders of the McKinney Restaurant Council, said there was some confusion about what regulations she had to meet, and questions circulated regarding how restaurants could make any money at only 25% capacity and how best to socially distance tables.
“There was a lot of uncertainty with the guidance that was coming out, and from a practical standpoint, businesses didn't really know which end was up,” Booth said. “We needed some more confidence in the actions that we were supposed to be taking in response to the guidance.”
It was then that she reached out to McKinney Chamber President and CEO Lisa Hermes with the idea that other restaurants were having the same questions she was. By banding together, local restaurants could share ideas and best practices, she said.
“We put out the call to all of the chamber members and all the restaurants in the city, and we started our series of meetings,” Booth said.
The greatest benefit to restaurants on the council is the ability to work together and ensure uniformity in the practices each restaurant implements, Booth said.
She went on to describe that the McKinney Restaurant Council has adopted the Texas Restaurant Association’s “Restaurant Promise” to make it the “McKinney Promise,” Booth said. The promise serves as a pact between the restaurant and its guests to ensure the safety of everyone in the establishment.
“We as a group decided we would adopt that and ... display it in our windows,” Booth said. “If you saw that sign in a restaurant window, you, as a guest, would be assured that we were taking the procedures seriously, that we are championing your health and that we wanted to make sure that our restaurant was as safe as possible for you to come and enjoy yourself.”
The priority to take guests’ and employees’ health and safety seriously is something of which both Booth and Hermes are supportive.
“I think we’re living in a new normal,” Hermes said in a news release. “Most people probably aren’t ready to go out to a crowded restaurant or sit down at a bar next to a stranger. The chamber is trying to help these businesses adapt to this new normal we now live in.”
To find out more about the McKinney Restaurant Council or other chamber initiatives to help the community, visit www.mckinneybacktobusiness.com.