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Restaurant owners sign "promise" to meet or exceed all pandemic health recommendations


The owners of nearly 150 locally-owed bars and restaurants in Michigan have signed on to a promise to meet or exceed all health recommendations during the pandemic.

The owners organized the promise after videos spread online showing some businesses ignoring the recommendations, and Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered indoor bars in much of lower Michigan to once again shut down.

As part of the promise, the businesses pledge:  

Each staff member will receive a daily wellness check, including having their temperature taken Staff members that interact with guests and/or work closely together will always wear clean masks We will space tables to allow proper social distancing We will meet or exceed CDC requirements for cleaning and sanitizing all surfaces We will regularly evaluate and alter our procedures to provide you with great service while also keeping you and our staff members safe We will be transparent with you when there is an identified positive COVID test on our team and we will meet or exceed all requirements prior to reopening We will limit groups to no more than 10 We will ask our staff to remain safe outside of work and follow all of the same protocols we require while on the job We will enforce all of the regulations we are required to meet as restaurants in the State of Michigan

Kris Spaulding is one of the business owners who organized the group. She owns Brewery Vivant and Broad Leaf Brewing in Grand Rapids.

She says her staff spends hours inside each day interacting with customers.

“They are truly freaked out that this is something that’s going to impact them, or their families, the people that they love most,” Spaulding says. “So if we don’t take it seriously, I think that just shows a disregard for the both physical and mental well-being of our team.”

As part of the promise, the businesses are also asking customers to wear masks, and stay home if they’re sick, among other precautions.

Tami VandenBerg is owner of The Meanwhile Bar and The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, both of which initially remained closed even as other businesses opened.

“It became clear that not all bars and restaurants planned to follow any of the precautions,” VandenBerg says. “And it was really brutal to watch.”

Eventually, The Meanwhile Bar did reopen last Monday, only to be closed again because of the Governor’s order.

“So we were open I believe a total of ten days,” she says. “And now we’re done.”  

She said one reason she signed on to the promise is to help people know which local businesses are committed to safe re-opening, when they can re-open.

“We’re all running out of cash,” she says. “Where you spend your cash will determine what’s left.”

To see all the businesses signed on to the promise, visit mirestaurantpromise.com.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Radio’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Radio since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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