With Miami-Dade County restaurants recently reopened for indoor seating, thousands of restaurant employees are handling new safety standards to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
To help, FIU launched a free COVID-19 Restaurant Safety and Compliance course for business owners, managers and employees. The course also features an hour-long live virtual session.
A collaborative effort between The City of Miami, Miami's Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management and FIU Online, the recently launched course, available completely online, was created to help make the community more resilient, encourage business development and support the launch of new restaurants, like Momosan Wynwood, opening in early November.
A strong start
“For chef Morimoto, safety is the absolute priority for our staff and guests,” stressed Chiaki Takada, who is excited to fill her role as manager for Momosan Wynwood, owned by famed Japanese chef Masaharu Morimoto.
Momosan Wynwood, which will feature ramen and sushi, will employ about 30 individuals to start with, said Takada. She signed up for the course and attended the live virtual session to learn as much as she could to help Momosan have a seamless opening.
“It was helpful. I wasn’t thinking about putting stickers on the floor. The instructor gave ideas for actual situations and examples,” Takada said.
COVID-19 has been particularly challenging for the restaurant industry, but this course will help owners and operators build back up as they take part in eliminating the potential spread of the coronavirus, said John Noble Masi, advanced food production and culinary professor for the Chaplin School. Masi, co-creator of the course, is the instructor for the live virtual session.
“Everything has had to be reimagined through the regulations and COVID-19 safety lens,” Masi explained.
“Restaurants need to know how to operate now,” added Nico Rose, Chaplin School instructor and course co-creator with Masi. Rose designed the online portion of the course.
All aspects of customer contact and how the staff works within the restaurant environment is addressed from first impressions to when customers leave, Masi said.
“There was a need to make this course to provide something accessible to the public—to help businesses understand and actualize the new policies and regulations,” Rose said.
Sara Agudelo, owner of Purple Orchid, asked her staff members to attend the live session and complete the course along with her. Purple Orchid, a healthy foods caterer and eatery, has three locations—Hollywood, Brickell and Downtown Miami. When COVID-19 forced many area businesses in the vicinity to work remotely, sales were severely affected, Agudelo said.
“We had to close for nine weeks. Besides that, we had to change the layout of all our restaurants and our hours,” Agudelo said. She lamented that she doesn’t usually have a budget for training but was elated about the free course.
“I thought it was a very good idea to ask my team to participate because they are the ones who deal with operations every day,” added Agudelo, who said business is slowly recovering now.
Agudelo intends to promote her restaurants’ commitment to continuing education and COVID-19 safety on social media with her team’s course certificates to help increase consumer confidence.
Live session and cling
Masi will host one more live virtual session on Tuesday, Sept. 29, from 7-8 p.m. The session will be recorded and available in English, Spanish and Creole for those who are not able to attend.
At the end of the course, participants are able to take a final quiz to certify their knowledge. Those who pass will receive a certificate and “cling” sticker to display in their establishment. According to Takada, Momosan will display the sticker prominently at the entrance. Any visual tool that affects a customer’s mindset should be helpful for establishments, she declared.
“To me redundancy is the key for safety. The more you learn, the more you do, the safer your restaurant will be. We are responsible for people,” Takada asserted.
For more information or to register for the course, visit: https://hospitality.fiu.edu/safety.