Downtown SLC's local businesses are an integral part of our local economy as they add vibrancy and walkability to our downtown streets. As businesses continue to open their doors amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and safety of customers and staff remain top-of-mind. We asked several businesses how they're faring and what they are doing to adapt to the current situation. 

We encourage you to support our local businesses during this time - be sure to check out our restaurant dining guide that features take-out, delivery and dine-in options.

How was your business impacted by COVID-19?

Salt Lake Power Yoga: We closed our business effective March 16. We went from offering 65+ Live classes a week to offering less than 20 classes on the virtual platform. We opened again with one live class per day on May 18, and are continuing to host the virtual classes.

Caputos Market & Deli: It is a challenge to describe the innumerable ways our company has been impacted by COVID-19. Entire revenue channels vanished, as our restaurant wholesale customers shut their doors, our dining rooms closed, and our popular tasting classes disappeared. Almost a hundred employees' livelihoods weighed heavily on our shoulders, while we were faced with a fraction of the ability needed to provide for them. Sales in our markets (which remained open for shopping) plummeted. So many sleepless nights. In spite of these incredible challenges, the global pandemic also presented opportunities - for example, our online grocery business skyrocketed. The strength and adaptability of our crew became widely apparent as chefs became delivery drivers and cheesemongers became packers for online orders. The 4-per week average tasting classes that disappeared soon were resurrected with online Zoom classes, now reaching people from coast to coast. To put it simply, it's been heartbreaking, indescribably stressful, but full of silver linings.

What changes have you made to adapt to the situation over the past couple of months?

Boltcutter/Monkeywrench: The biggest change that we have made to adapt to the current situation was to design and install large panels on the storefronts of Boltcutter and Monkeywrench so that we can take orders and deliver food to our guests without having them inside of our space. We also built out online ordering platforms for Buds, Boltcutter and Monkeywrench which is not something we had available to our guests prior to COVID-19. Learning how these systems function and how to utilize them to best serve our guests has been a new challenge.

The Bourbon Group: The Bourbon Group has taken a safety/sanitation first approach. We are following all state guidelines and have taken extra steps as a company to minimize risk to our staff and guests. We ask each guest to sanitize before entering and provide them with a mask to wear while communicating with our staff. We professionally sanitize each establishment 3 times a week as well as having staff sanitize every surface every 30 min each day. We have also started to take reservations in order to be able to control our door and eliminate people having to wait for tables.

How have you adapted your operations to ensure the health and safety of your customers and employees?

Boltcutter/Monkeywrench: All of our employees work in masks, we have increased our sanitation protocols and we are not allowing any dine-in customers. We made and installed pickup windows at Boltcutter and Monkeywrench to reduce air exchange between the staff and customers and allow for contactless customer experience. We are now a cashless operation too.

Salt Lake Power Yoga: Everything was revamped. We remained closed longer than required because we didn’t feel like it was appropriate to open without thoroughly reviewing every aspect of our business, with the safety of our staff and students always at the forefront. Required masks, signage, communication, social distancing, traffic patterns inside the studio, cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and limiting the capacity to a maximum of 18 students in the practice space (normally our capacity is 65 ppl) are examples of some of the pivots we have made with COVID. We have been in constant communication with the Salt Lake Health Department to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to provide a safe space for people to practice yoga.

How do you see your business continuing to develop into the future?

Caputos Market & Deli: Many of the things we put in place to survive during the pandemic will allow us to thrive long after it is over. For example, online ordering for local delivery of sandwiches executed by our own drivers rather than 3rd party delivery app will remain. Shipping of groceries via USPS and FedEx has been even more popular than local delivery. Customers can order online in all 50 states and expect free and fast shipping and the same incredible customer service they get in our physical stores. Our online sales are now larger than in-store and growing quickly! We have also moved our classes online, and while many others have also done this, ours include samples of the food shipped to your door and a truly engaging and educational experience. The response has been so incredible that we envision using Zoom to change the way specialty food is sold online. For example, why have a personal shopper, when you can talk with a cheesemonger? We are developing a virtual work station at Caputo's cheese counter where our mongers can guide online customers to delicious products that fit their preferences and needs. Just like the experience, they would get when standing at the cheese counter in Salt Lake City, but then shipped to their door anywhere in the USA! 

The Bourbon Group: We have always had a high standard for sanitation and safety. We will continue to adapt, improve and implement new and better policies and practices.

Why should people start to come back to your business now they are allowed to do so? 

Salt Lake Power Yoga: Now more than ever, people need the practice of yoga. The practice of coming to their mat, staying in the stillness, moving their bodies and connecting with breath, other students and their teacher. We invite everyone to practice with us, whether it is from their own home or in the studio. Local studios like Salt Lake Power Yoga will make it through this crisis with support from our incredible community. Spending your dollars on our classes or on our retail goods flows directly to the teachers you love and will help keep the light on in the studio many call home. Now more than ever, small local businesses need our support. 100% goes stays local. No franchise, or corporate contracts with this local studio!

Caputos Market & Deli: The same reason they always have - out of love for the good stuff. Many of the foods we treasure most - artisan cheese, salumi, tinned seafood - has been around for hundreds of years, through world wars, natural disasters, and other global pandemics. We are committed to doing our part to ensure these traditions continue, and continually adapting in order to share how special they are. Caputo's is built on connection to our past, our present, our future, and our customers. We hope people will come to our shops (in person and online) to experience the food traditions we strive to preserve.

Special thanks to Boltcutter, Caputos Market & Deli, The Bourbon Group and Salt Lake Power Yoga for participating. Learn more and visit these businesses by clicking the links below:

Published in Downtown News and Blog

Hosted 5-14-20 by Local First and Downtown Alliance

View the video of the discussion here

Key Takeaways and Comments:

Many establishments are open for business. To ensure everyone's health and safety, local practices include:

  • Utilizing 3rd party delivery services, on-line ordering, and curbside pick up options
  • Applying strict safety and cleaning protocols such as:
    • Signage throughout highlighting safe social distancing and cleaning practices
    • Directional travel-one way in, one way out
    • Strict cleaning and sanitation practices
    • Keeping logs for the health department that include temperature checks and sanitization practices.
    • Taking employees temperature when arriving to work
    • Utilizing QR codes, customers can simply scan the QR code and view the menu on their phone in lieu of paper menus
    • Separating work spaces for employees to allow for social distancing
    • Requiring employees and patrons to wear masks and providing them to those that arrive without one
    • Creating plans to open dining, gathering, and venue areas at reduced occupancy.

Communication is key for both consumer and employee confidence. Local practices include:

  • Including checklists with take-out orders that identify safety and sanitary practices taken while preparing orders.
  • Communicating with employees all the steps taken to keep them safe at work.
  • Respecting those employees that don’t feel safe to come back to work.

Some businesses are choosing to stay closed! Reasons are:

  • Workspaces too small to accomodate safe social distancing practices
  • Safe social distancing practices not practical or economically viable
  • Bringing back furloughed employees too soon too risky and expensive

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is in high demand. PPE information:

Some business owners advocate for sealed “to-go” cocktails. Reasons include:

  • Businesses sitting on expensive inventory and no ability to recoup costs
  • Offering sealed cocktails with take out orders is an opportunity for increased sales

Comments from business owners regarding Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and bringing back employees include:

  • Round 2 of PPP funding was deposited Wednesday, so now we’re figuring out how to get employees back to work which is challenging.
  • We applied for the PPP for the second time and received word recently that we got it. I’m still hearing various concerns on the PPP from our accountant, lawyers and bankers so we plan to hold off dipping into it for the time being. Pre-Covid we had 16 on staff and have 8 willing to come back to work should we open on the date we had in mind.
  • Extension of the 8 week PPP use to 16+ weeks would be very helpful. Having to reach the 75% + rehiring the equivalent of FTE is impossible when the health department has criteria that limits us to less than 40% capacity — IF we were to reopen we would incur the extra PPE costs. Most importantly, the customer confidence is at about 19% for dining in. We furloughed 64 ppl on March 17th.

Re-Opening Round Table Discussion with Salt Lake City Independent Breweries & Distilleries.

Hosted 5-14-20 by Local First and Downtown Alliance.

View the video of the discussion here

Breweries and Distilleries are taking safety precautions seriously. Local practices include:

  • Tours, tastings, and purchasing- By appointment only- some plan to keep this practice on-going
  • Frequent sanitization practices
  • Providing PPE to employees and customers
  • Those with seating are strategizing on safe reopening practices.
  • Some suggested it as a safe option for those that don’t want to wait in line at the liquor stores

Notes:

Supply chains are compromised, ethanol and other products used in botanicals are in reduced supply due to market demand for hand sanitizer and plant closures internationally.

One business owner suggested that DABC practices are not friendly to local producers, and less-expensive national products are prioritized. Prioritized placement of cheaper products contributes to a drinking culture of overconsumption by adults and minors.

Published in Downtown News and Blog